Jennifer Satterfield has always been drawn to firefighting.
Even with young children in tow, the mom of three couldn’t stop thinking about the job.
“Every time I would see a firefighter, I would ask how they like it and every time I would get the same answer: ‘Yeah, it’s the best job ever,’” Satterfield said. “It seemed really appealing to me.”
As her children got older, she finally decided to give her dream a chance.
Satterfield, a former registered nurse, went on to join the ranks at Huntsville Fire & Rescue in 2019. The firefighter/EMT is one of only a handful of women who work for the department – something the leadership team at Huntsville Fire & Rescue hopes to change.
Despite being one of the few women within her department, Satterfield doesn’t want anyone to view or treat her differently because of her gender.
“I don’t even want to be recognized as a female firefighter,” she said. “I just want to be a firefighter who happens to be a female. I know it’s odd to some people – a middle-aged woman wanting to do this – but I’ve always had a taste for adventure and I like helping people. To me, it’s odd that I wasn’t already doing it.”
Huntsville Fire & Rescue recently kicked off its second round of hiring for the year. With a goal of bringing on approximately 20 new team members, the department hopes this new hiring class is diverse and representative of the broader Huntsville community.
Lead Recruiter and Driver/Engineer Cory Green said Fire & Rescue wants representation from every background, every gender, every race and every socioeconomic status.
“It’s important that our department reflects the demographics and values of our entire community,” he said. “If you feel called to make a difference and want to enjoy a rewarding and stable career, you should give Huntsville Fire & Rescue a chance. I’m so thankful and glad I did.”
If you feel called to make a difference and want to enjoy a rewarding and stable career, you should give Huntsville Fire & Rescue a chance. I’m so thankful and glad I did.”
The recruitment effort for Huntsville Fire & Rescue includes a new website – JoinHuntsvilleFireandRescue.com. Dedicated to demystifying the hiring process while helping candidates succeed, the website accompanies social media outreach, video and an increased presence at job fairs and hiring boards to bring the best candidates on board.
Not Just Firefighting
Satterfield said every day is different at Huntsville Fire & Rescue. While eating, resting, working out, and training together, Satterfield and her colleagues often have to stop what they’re doing to answer a call.
But for Satterfield, who once worked at Huntsville Hospital and for a hospice company, that lifestyle is nothing new.
“Calls can happen at the drop of a hat,” she said. “But that’s what’s exciting about it. No two calls are ever the same.”
Although fire suppression is a critical part of the job, it’s not the only thing Fire & Rescue employees do.
Their work also includes prevention, emergency lifesaving, and rescue services. It’s an inherently dangerous career that requires strenuous physical exertion under emergency conditions such as extreme heat, confined spaces, contaminated environments, and infectious disease.
Throughout their career, Huntsville firefighters may choose to participate in a variety of teams, including the Hazmat Team, Heavy Rescue Team, Fire Prevention and Code Enforcement, Honor Guard/Pipes & Drums, or the Training Division.
“There’s truly something for everyone here,” Green said. “We take pride in our staff and work hard to train each recruit to be their best.”
The process of becoming a firefighter takes about six months from start to finish. In addition to a civil service exam, applicants must pass the Candidate Physical Ability Test (CPAT), which measures their ability to handle the physical demands of being a firefighter.
Candidates have three chances to pass the CPAT. After that, an interview with the applicant helps to determine whether the City wants to make an offer.
Since joining Fire & Rescue, Satterfield said the firefighters she spoke to when she was younger were right. She also says she has more time off now than she did when she was a nurse.
“By the time I got hired, I had literally been working 21 years – since I was 16 – and hands down, it’s the best job ever,” she said.
By the time I got hired, I had literally been working 21 years – since I was 16 – and hands down, it’s the best job ever.”
Her advice for others looking to join Huntsville Fire & Rescue? Be prepared to work hard, be open to learning, and be ready for your life to change – in a good way.
“What made it click for me, especially having worked in hospice for four years, was life is too short to have what-ifs,” she said. “If there’s something that has been on your mind, go for it, and if it’s meant to be, it will happen.”
Ready to get started? Go to JoinHuntsvilleFireandRescue.com today. Applications close December 17!