She has served as a member of the Central York Fire Services for more than a decade.
It is a job she loves, serving the community which has become a second home and, earlier this year, Kristy Paterson became a somewhat reluctant trailblazer as the Central York Fire Service’s first female Acting Captain.
A historic first, to be sure, but Paterson has a different perspective.
“I am proud of my accomplishment because I think it is a great position, but I don’t think it is special that I am the first woman,” Patterson tells The Auroran. “I am super happy for everyone who passed the test and was a successful candidate, but I don’t think I should be given any more recognition as the first female because everyone passed the same time. The public doesn’t care, or shouldn’t care, if it is a man or a woman who is responding to [a call], all they really care about is if you can do the job when the time comes.”
Instead, the Barrie resident wants to be seen as a good role model for all genders, regardless of whether they want to follow in her footsteps to a local fire station.
Being a fire fighter was not a life-long dream for Patterson. As a student at the University of Toronto, she was a player on their varsity hockey team. Athletics came to her naturally and she focused on kinesiology. In her fourth year, however, a conversation with a firefighter left her pondering a career pivot.
“It just sounded like a super interesting path to follow,” she says, noting she undertook college training to become a firefighter soon thereafter.
It didn’t take long for her to be hired by the CYFS – and, perhaps most importantly, realize she made the right choice.
“I loved it probably from Day One,” she says. “Every day is different, you’re always learning. It’s a team environment and everybody works together. You’re constantly learning new things and every shift is different and you don’t know what you’re going to get. You’re not confined to an office; you’re out, you’re helping the community, you’re involved and you’re just helping people. It is a good feeling to be there for the community.
“I am super happy to come to work every day and to work with really awesome people just being part of a team and knowing we get to help the towns of Aurora and Newmarket.”
Currently stationed in Aurora, Patterson hopes that in her new role she will continue learning and being there for the community.
“In my new role, I want to be a good role model to not only young girls but young boys as well, that if you work hard, you’re able to achieve it,” she says. If it is something you want, then work hard, take the right schooling and you will be able to do it. I understand the support [stemming from being the CYFS’ first female Acting Captain], but at the same time, why is it special? I am proud of my accomplishment and it didn’t have anything to do with being female. My goal is to just be better every day than I was yesterday. It doesn’t matter if you’re a man or a woman, it is just that you’re capable of doing the job.”
Brock Weir, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Auroran