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Calming Fears, Easing Minds, and Saving Lives with Firefighter Elona Davis-Fowler

Who is Elona Davis-Fowler

First and foremost, a wife and a mother, that to me is the most important role of my life. After that, I am a firefighter. This newfound love for firefighting wasn't something I had planned to do in life. Regardless, it's where I ended, and I am so ecstatic about it.

What inspired you to become a firefighter?

Initially, my desire was not to become a firefighter. I originally wanted to get into the EMS (Emergency Medical Services) field. After pursuing that and taking advantage of an opportunity to be a part of a volunteer fire department, which also provided EMS, I was given the opportunity to go to an academy. Once I enrolled in the academy for the first time because I've done two. I realized it was something right up my alley, and I have not looked back since.

Discussing mental health issues seems to be a barrier for firefighters. How can those in leadership positions reverse this trend by supporting those who deal with depression or PTSD?

Regarding the fire service and the fire department, I think leaders that make themselves transparent can create a family-oriented environment for their personnel. It then becomes easy for firefighters to express themselves after experiencing a challenging cause, whether it be EMS or fire. I would say it's what we have here. We are family-oriented, and I consider these men here my brothers, and if there were women, I would consider them my sisters. It makes it easier to talk about what goes on and how to process that together. If you can create that type of environment, it will help make personnel more comfortable speaking.

What morals do you lean on most when choosing to help others?

When choosing to be a firefighter or provide EMS, the morals I lean on the most are the same morals that I have always leaned on. Which is to operate out of love first, have compassion and empathy, be a good person with a good character. By carrying those characteristics, it makes the job easy.

Past and present firefighters have spoken up about various forms of discrimination they have experienced within the field. Why do you think there is such a divide between black and white firefighters?

I would say in general, there are not many African Americans interested in firefighting, and I don't know why that is. So since there are more white firefighters, they have become dominant in this field. It created a divide in itself. I have not personally experienced any firefighters who have spoken up about discrimination here, but I did know going into it that it could go either way. I have not experienced any discrimination myself, but I know that you should come with a pure heart and be genuine and respectful when dealing with people. If we can do that as people, we will get a better response from others. I try to operate with the morals that I spoke of earlier and include love, empathy, and compassion. As far as it is happening in other places, that comes down to the people as individuals. If they conduct themselves in that type of manner at their place of work, they are likely participating in those same conversations and activities at home.

As they currently only female at the New Bern Fire-Rescue, what would you like to share with those who feel women cannot be firefighters?

I would say to go after it. If that is a passion you have in the back of your head, and maybe your not pursuing it because you may get poorly treated. Perhaps it would be too challenging, or whatever reason you consider for not following it. You have to push those thoughts aside and go after them. That's something I learned later on in life. When there is something that might seem unattainable or challenging, you have to push past those fears and doubts. You will be surprised at how amazing it will work out for you. At times, this is a very physical and demanding job, but I still enjoy it enough to pursue it as a new career and soar in it.

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