Firefighting has always been a passion for Melissa Meier.
Now chief of her department, Meier will be the first Yukon woman in the role since the late 1990s.
"I wish we were in a place where it wasn't an unusual thing, but I think we're getting there," said Meier, the new chief of the Hootalinqua Volunteer Fire Department.
Meier started volunteering in 2001, battling blazes in Vancouver Island, Dawson and Whitehorse.
"I really developed a passion for it," she said. "It really challenged me in a lot of ways I never even thought about."
As she leads the department, she also works full-time and has a seven-year-old child.
Meier said it's a "big honour" to be chief, and encourages more women to try volunteer firefighting.
Yukon has seen other female fire chiefs in the 1990s, says a spokesperson for Yukon Protective Services.
Jackie Shorty was the fire chief of Upper Liard from 1993 to 1999, and Liz Row was chief at Mount Lorne Volunteer Fire Department in 1996. Row's father was fire chief in Whitehorse, and she says it "ran in the blood."
"I think that the fire department is more geared toward accepting females more than they used to be," Row said. "Twenty-five years ago if you wanted to be a firefighter in Whitehorse, there was no chance unless you joined a volunteer firefighter ... it was a 'man's job.'"
She said it's "absolutely awesome" to see Meier in the chief role.
There are three women currently serving as deputy fire chiefs with the Yukon Fire Service, said Maria Gosselin, communications analyst for Protective Services.
As a new chief, Meier hopes to build the team, and support more training. There are 15 members at her hall, she said, four of whom are women.
Meier said she loves working with the team and serving the community.
"You can train for really difficult, harrowing situations in a controlled manner," she said.
"I learned to compartmentalize, and to kind of fall back on the training and trust in my team and and gear," she said.
Once the fire was out, "you can kind of reflect on what it was you just did as a team," she said. "It's a pretty profound experience."
At her first fire hall in B.C., Meier remembers being inspired by a woman fire chief.
"I hope I can be that inspiration to my crew as well."