Gulfport Fire Department is a step closer to bringing a female into its ranks.
Julia Glosek, a Seabee reservist, recently completed Gulfport’s physical requirement test en route to becoming the department’s first female firefighter.
Glosek, a single mom of 7-year-old Jordan, still must complete a background check and interview with Civil Service before she can be added to the eligible for hire list for Gulfport.
But with a military background and 11 positions open in Gulfport, Chief Mike Beyerstedt believes she has a good chance to be hired on to the department.
“I’m told that about 30 years ago, we had a female firefighter come to work here, but she didn’t make it through probation,” Beyerstedt said. “Every year, we have women who apply. I’ve been here seven years and this is the first female applicant who has made it through the physical agility test.”
Glosek, 28, is employed at Oscar Renda Contracting. She has been with the Seabees as a reservist for more than 10 years and plans to continue to serve, she said. Currently a first class engineering aide, Glosek hopes she can make master chief before retiring from the Navy. She said she came to Gulfport for training and fell in love with the area, so she decided to make it her home.
Glosek said even through she was sick the day of the physical requirements test, she pushed through because she didn’t want to let anyone down.
“I said, you know, I am going to try for the fire department here and I work out with some of the guys from the fire department and they said you know, there has never been a female and I took that challenge and I said challenge accepted.
“For breakfast the day of, I had chicken noodle soup and Mucinex and Dayquil and hot tea and coffee and everything just to be ready for the test because everyone knew about it and they were behind me and I couldn’t let them down.”
The CrossFit enthusiast completed the test, which includes jumping through windows, carrying a 200-pound dummy for 100 feet, completing situps and walking up a 100-foot ladder at a 75-degree angle. Beyerstedt said the applicants must complete the test wearing a jacket, hat, gloves and air pack.
“You think of 75 degrees and you’re like OK and then you look at it and you are looking straight up, but it was cool. I got up there and you are clipped in for two minutes and I got to see the Seabee Base and got to look all around.”
Beyerstedt said that his firefighters complete the physical test each year as part of their training.
“It’s our choice,” he said. “Firefighters are occupational athletes. We think it’s a core requirement to go through that extra step (of physical testing) in Gulfport.”
Glosek hopes her success so far will inspire other women to get fit and rise to the challenge to become a firefighter.
“I have to be a role model for my 7-year-old (daughter) and this is amazing,” she said. “I hope more females do the test. I mean, it’s possible. It’s possible to pass. I hope I can motivate them to go out and do it.”
Beyerstedt said that he has 11 openings in his department, so in January, he’s expecting a big recruit class and he plans to start a fire recruit academy Jan. 16, 2018 that will include 11 to 12 Gulfport firefighter candidates, as well as others from Long Beach, Pascagoula and Jackson County.
Caroline Eaker, a reporter with the Sun Herald’s news partner WXXV News 25, contributed to this report.