Department Hires Female Firefighter for the First Time in Its 105-Year History

Bree Rios followed her father's footsteps into the Harlingen, Texas, Fire Department. But hers were the first made by a woman.

She had been telling her dad since she was a little girl that she wanted to work with him. Victor Rios has been with the department for more than 20 years.

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The city's fire team is comprised of 108 men. Before Rios, no woman had ever passed the firefighter exams.

"She just prepared herself and she completed the tests," Fire Chief Roy Rubio told InsideEdition.com Thursday. "She's doing well."

Rios took the tests three times before passing. Apart from a written exam, applicants must pass a physical agility course that is the same for women and men.

"Anybody can apply," Rubio said. "There have been other females that have taken the test and passed the written test but not the physical agility" portion, he said. 

He said the department's requirements are roughly the same as any other firefighting agency in the country.

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Rios must complete four months of orientation training and then she will be assigned a field supervisor to lead her through her probationary period. 

Harlingen's newest firefighter said making the department has had a bigger impact than she first imagined.

"I've had people reach out to me, girls out in public say, 'Hey, aren't you that girl?''' she told KGBT-TV. 

“To the females and the women, and the young girls of the community — if you set your mind to something and you really want to do it, go out and do it," said Rios. "It can happen.”

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