BELLEFONTE, Pa. (WTAJ) — A Centre County woman is extinguishing stereotypes of what women can do as the first female fire chief of a local fire company.
Bobbi Salvanish is the first woman to be voted fire chief of the Logan Fire Company in Bellefonte. Her passion for fighting fires began with her mom.
“My mom was one of the first of two women firefighters. She joined back here in the 1970s,” Salvanish said. “She donated hours upon hours here. She truly loved the Logan Fire Company.”
Following in her mom’s footsteps, Salvanish joined the Logan Fire Company in June 2001.
“I started out as a Yellow Helmet. Which is one of our probationary, exterior only firefighters,” Salvanish said. “I would never have volunteered anywhere else. The “Logans” is kind of in my blood.”
She oversees more than two dozen firefighters as chief, including a half-dozen women.
“I’m proud. I’m proud to be the Chief Director of the Logan Fire Company. We’re, you know, a great organization,” Salvanish said.
While Bobbi has achieved success as a woman in this industry, only 11% of volunteer firefighters in the United States are women.
“Bobbi has a great work ethic. There’s nothing she won’t do for herself or for anybody in the company,” said Tom Hand, Vice President at the Logan Fire Company. “She has the respect of the firefighters.”
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Throughout all of the accolades, Bobbi has stayed true to one thing: herself.
“I’m still me. I have a white helmet. I do a few more meetings and a lot more paperwork,” Salvanish said. “Besides that, I’m still here to do the same job.”
Bobbi hopes her work as chief shows young girls they can put out fires too.
“If you can dream it, you can do it,” Salvanish said. “Stay positive and don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t do something because you can.”