The first woman ever has just won the 2017 Los Angeles Fire Department Firefighter of the Year award.
Her name is Rosa Tufts.
With over 34 years of service with the Los Angeles Fire Department and the only female LAFD arson investigator, Inspector Tufts had the mental and physical strength to break down doors to save people from fires -- and to break through glass ceilings for future female firefighters.
While Tufts is currently assigned to the Arson Counter Terrorism Section, working with LAPD Major Crimes Division as a Joint Terrorism Task Force Investigator, she has served 12 years as an arson investigator.
"There's a lot of pressure because we have to solve this. This is a dangerous individual and we have to find the person before he commits another crime," Tufts said.
During her time with LAFD, Tufts has had a major role in solving numerous arson cases. She helped with the investigation of the Da Vinci Apartment Fire in downtown LA and the Hollywood Arson Fires where 54 apartment buildings and vehicles were damaged and destroyed.
"She's tough not only physically, but mentally. She can be crafty about the way she does her investigation and the way she approaches her job," a colleague said.
Of the 18 arson investigators in the City of Los Angeles, Tufts is the only woman. Her journey to gaining this position and the respect of her colleagues has been anything but easy.
"When I was in the academy, I would wake up, throw up and go to work. That was hard," said Tufts.
But Inspector Tufts did not stop there. She took it upon herself to help mentor and instruct hundreds of first responders, students, and career firefighters for more than two decades. Additionally she helped develop programs to improve public safety organizations such as FEMA, NFPA, IAFF and DHS.
Inspector Tufts went above and beyond what it takes to be a good firefighter— and her colleagues at LAFD took notice.
"It's just wonderful. And to be recognized, beyond words," said Tufts of receiving the 2017 Firefighter of the Year award.
Although Tufts is the first woman to ever be named the Firefighter of the Year, she is certainly not the last.