Forest Park Fire Chief Overcame Many Barriers

Chief Trish Brooks, Forest Park Fire Department
Chief Trish Brooks, Forest Park Fire Department
Courtenay Gamber, firefighter
Courtenay Gamber, firefighter

(FOREST PARK, OH) -- On this Mother's day.. We have a story about a truly inspirational mom who broke through barriers.

She's now a leader in what's traditionally been a man's job.

And as FOX19's Corey McConnell reports it's been a long, hard road to get there.

She is a mother of five, a grandmother of nine, and she's one of two female fire chiefs in the state of Ohio.

"I was nine years old and I told my father, and this as the 50's, I told my father I wanted to be a firefighter when I grow up (see I'm already starting) and he said little girls don't do things like that little girls are nurses, and teachers, and mommies."

So that's what Forest Park Fire Chief Trish Brooks did, she became a mom.

But her dreams of becoming a firefighter never faded..

"Always wanted to be a part of the action I wanted to be out front leading the charge."

And now she is.. But it wasn't an easy journey.  She was hired as a volunteer fire fighter in Forest Park in 1982.. But first, the chief wanted to talk to her husband, to make sure it was ok with him.

"In the early 80's it just wasn't acceptable to have a woman in this business."

She beat out 16 men for the job.  And learned quickly that she was a woman in a man's world. Success was going to be an uphill climb.

"I found my gear missing I found my personal things destroyed."

But she never let 'em see her sweat.  She kept her mouth shut, tried to keep her emotions in check, and in 2000 Trish Brooks became chief of the Forest Park Fire Department.

Almost immediately, Brooks experienced the most defining moment of her career.  In October of 2000 the elevator at the Indian Creek Apartment complex in Sycamore Township crashed to the floor with 9 people inside.

"I said it's time to step up to the plate, I am in charge, I can do it and I will do it... And I did it."

It's that determination and passion that inspired Courtenay Gamber to become a firefighter.

Courtenay is Chief Brooks oldest daughter.

"I grew up with my mentor my here my friend so I just naturally followed into her footsteps."

"I think it's the highest compliment a person can receive for one of your children to determine that they want to grow up and be like you."

Trish says that even though times are different now, she's still a woman in a man's world.

And without the support of her husband, her family and friends she wouldn't be where she is today.

"We have to hold our sisters up help them out pull them up give them advice do the things we should be doing for eachother."