MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. --
Airman 1st Class Taylor N. Thompson, 22nd Civil Engineering Squadron fire protection apprentice, is currently serving as the first female firefighter to be assigned to McConnell Air Force Base in over 20 years.
From a young age, the walls of a fire station have always felt like a second home to Thompson. Her passion for fire protection stems from her father, Jacob Thompson, who served as a firefighter for 24 years in their hometown of Monongah, West Virginia.
“I would always put my dad’s gear on, walk around and sit in the trucks,” said Thompson.
Prior to her enlistment, Thompson served as a volunteer firefighter for two years in West Virginia. Now, as a fourth-generation firefighter herself, Thompson has quickly proven to be an asset to her team.
“Right now she hasn’t skipped a beat,” said Edward Sanchez, 22nd Civil Engineering Squadron chief of fire protection. “She’s on top and on target. [Thompson’s] coming in and knocking out her training.”
As a new Airman in the station, the daily pressures can be difficult to manage without the right team behind you. Thompson gives credit to her fellow firefighters for not only their unwavering support, but respect as well.
“They don’t see me as female in the fire station,” said Thompson. “They see me as another firefighter.”
Since arriving at McConnell, the opportunity to focus on her training has helped Thompson develop her skills as a firefighter. From the moment a call is made to the station, firefighters have exactly one minute to fully don their gear and be on the truck. A firefighter’s ability to quickly react can be the difference between life and death.
“You have people’s lives in your hands,” said Thompson. “That’s stressful.”
The team at Station 1 trains daily with the intention of having their skills become second nature in the event of an emergency. Each day involves classroom technical training followed by an outdoor objective.
While the days may be long and the training can be challenging, Thompson faces each day with one idea in mind: to make her father proud.
“Before I do anything [I think]: Gotta make my dad proud. Can’t let him down,” said Thompson.
Under the guidance of her fellow firefighters and the support of her leadership, Thompson plans to continue to work hard during her time at McConnell and aims to one day become a lieutenant in the fire station, just like her father. She hopes to inspire other women in the Air Force and lead by example throughout her military career.
“I'm going to dedicate my life to it,” said Thompson. “This is the only career I want. I don’t ever want to do anything else.”