NEW CASTLE —
Bedilion will be the first to tell you that in no way is she a girly-girl.
“I don’t wear makeup or dresses, I don’t even own any,” she said. “I spend my life in jeans and a T-shirt.”
Her life, she says, is a happy one, with her work at the farm, raising Caden, firefighting, schooling and her job as a heavy equipment operator.
“Life is too short to dread going to your job,” she said. “I wake up every day happy with where I am and what I have the opportunity to do.”
She admits, though, that the best part of her day often is spent as a firefighter.
“When I do have down time, I usually grab Caden and take him to the fire hall,” she said. “He’ll help clean the trucks or whatever else needs done. He will be eligible to become a junior firefighter when he’s 14 and he can’t wait.”
LEARNING AS SHE GOES
Bedilion said she takes very seriously that her life is on the line every time her pager goes off — and so are the lives of her fellow firefighters.
“They taught us at fire school that when you stop fearing a fire, you need to get out of firefighting,” she said. “You never know if a wall is going to collapse or if there is a propane tank that is about to explode on the other side of a wall that you’re hosing down. I learned very early on that no two fires are the same and no two houses ever burn the same way.
“I want to go home at the end of the day and I want to make certain that everyone around me goes home at the end of the day.”
Bedilion said she learns something new every time she goes out to fight a fire.
“I ask a lot of questions, sometimes I think maybe I ask too many, but I respect the years of experience that many of my fellow firefighters have and I want to know everything they know,” she said. “If I don’t know how to do something, I’ll just admit it. If the chief asks me to do something I’m not familiar with, I’ll just tell him that I haven’t learned that yet and he’ll go on to the next guy. Then the next time we have training, I’ll have them show me and I’ll practice it.
“You have to be smart to stay safe. You don’t half-ass this, because if your heart isn’t in it, you can get hurt and you can get your buddies hurt.”
Scott Township actually is one of the last departments in Lawrence County to gain a female member with Firefighter I status. Departments such as Neshannock and Mahoning Township have boasted female firefighters for years. Hitchen said his first accredited female takes her work seriously.
“I like the fact that she asks a lot of questions,” he said. “And she never asks the same one twice, once you tell her something, she’s got it. She’s got a lot going on with her work, her schooling and raising Caden, but I know that if she promises me she will do something, she will do it.
“She has just been a great addition to our department.”