Dallas Fire-Rescue is celebrating new leaders -- 89 members of DFR were officially promoted in rank during a ceremony today at Moody Performance Hall in Dallas.
Family and friends as well as colleagues were on hand to watch each firefighter come up on stage and be recognized by Dallas Fire Chief David Coatney and other dignitaries.
Among the honorees is a woman who is blazing a new trail in Dallas history.
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“It’s kind of surreal,” said Regina Trail. “When I first got on, the only thing I wanted to do was to take care of my kids, make sure they had something to eat, a roof over their head.”
Trail is the first African American woman in DFR history promoted to lieutenant on the operations side, according to the department.
There are women in top positions in the fire prevention and inspection section of the department.
“It’s been difficult but it’s not been impossible,” said Trail. “I was given the same opportunities as everyone else.”
The mother of two thinks back to her childhood running past the fire department in her hometown of White Settlement.
“One day these guys were like ‘did you eat?’ and I said ‘no!’ and so when I came back from school on the way home they had sandwiches and stuff so I would stop by the station in the mornings on the way there, grab me a little bite and then come back in the evenings and hang out with them playing ping pong and stuff so it was kind of pretty cool,” she said with a smile.
This public service also runs in her family. Robert Trail, her uncle, retired in 2012 after serving 31 years at DFR.
“I said ‘Regina, would you like to get on the department?’" said Robert Trail. “She said ‘really?’ I said ‘yeah!’”
“When I first got on I could barely do one pushup,” she said laughing.
Trail credits mentors at DFR, both men and women, for helping her rise in the ranks.
“Females historically are underrepresented across the United States fire service,” said Chief Coatney.
Coatney has been with the department going on two years and says the department continues to reach out to all races and genders able and willing to join the force.
“We’re pretty reflective of our community,” he said. “I mean, are we perfect? No. We still have some room to grow and do a better job of recruiting which we’re actually focused on right now.”
Lt. Trail says will now focus on recruiting full time, visiting schools and colleges.
“To not only show other little girls and other minorities that they can be greater than what’s right there in their neighborhood,” she said. “So they can actually see a face that looks like theirs.”
These are words of encouragement from a woman who says she is not done making history.
“I am going to Captain,” she said with a laugh. “I am determined. The only thing that can stop me is me.”
When it comes to female firefighters, the National Fire Protection Association says women make up 4 percent of firefighters nationally.
DFR says it is slightly above the national average.