When Amanda Hoade applied for the position of Chief Engineer at the Upper Gwynedd Township Fire Department, she knew that she would be following in her father’s footsteps, who held the same position over a decade before.
At age 14, Hoade began her firefighting career as a Junior Firefighter where she worked alongside her father. She progressed through a series of positions, including Senior Firefighter and Assistant Engineer.
Today, at age 27, Hoade not only holds the title of Chief Engineer, but she is the first woman in the 108-year-old history of the station to hold this once male-only dominated title.
She will now report to the Battalion Chief of the station, who reports to Station Chief Chris Sharkey.
The Chief Engineer is responsible for managing the trucks, inspections, water pump tests and certifications, hose and ladder functionality, and making sure that the truck sparkles. “No kid likes to see a dirty fire truck fleeing down the street,” jokes Hoade.
During the day, Hoade works as a health and physical education teacher at a Chester County private school.
When asked if she has plans to continue her climb up the volunteer career ladder, Hoade says, “I have no interest in being Chief of the Station. I’m not as comfortable with running the fire scene. I enjoy pumping water and taking care of the truck. Nobody realizes how much math is needed to figure out how much water to pump. I love that part of my job.”
Hoade’s father, who worked for Merck as a Batallion Chief, retired from his volunteer fire department position years prior. But now that Hoade has shattered a century-old glass ceiling, he plans to return to the station to work alongside his daughter once again.
Hoade is part of a live-in program with the fire department. In exchange for housing, Hoades volunteers 40 hours a week, working four 10-hour shifts at a time. To qualify for the live-in program, participants are required to hold a Firefighter One Certification and Vehicles Rescue Technician Certification and be over 18 years of age.
Since live-in program residents are not allowed to house partners or spouses, Hoades may eventually find outside housing with her girlfriend, Becks. The two have been together for a year and a half and now volunteer together at the station.
“Sexual orientation has never been an issue with the department. While I stayed somewhat closeted in the beginning, partly because my Dad worked there, I eventually started dating an EMT and came out. Nobody was surprised, but I felt more relaxed knowing that I could bring a girlfriend to department events like awards banquets without thinking twice.”
To learn more about the Upper Gwynedd Township Fire Department, click here.