Bewley first female lieutenant of NFD
Loren Bewley’s mom has an old Polaroid picture of her from 1991 dressed as a little firefighter.
Maybe it was a mother’s intuition, or just chance. But today, Bewley is a professional firefighter for her hometown and the Nicholasville Fire Department’s first ever female officer.
Bewley was promoted to lieutenant on Sept. 16.
“It’s a great feeling,” Bewley said, but she said she couldn’t have done it without the support of her fellow firefighters and leaders.
“Since I came on, everybody’s been super-supportive from the bottom to the top,” including Battalion Chief Johnny Adams, who has been a good mentor, she said. “I really dove into it, and I worked hard.”
“As young a department as we are, there isn’t anybody I wouldn’t work for,” she said. “I went up against some very tough competition, and I’m just honored that I got chosen.”
Bewley has been a firefighter for a little over five years, but it wasn’t always the career path she imagined.
After graduating from West Jessamine High School, Bewley, 33, of Nicholasville, earned a bachelor’s degree at Transylvania University, an elite liberal arts college in Lexington, and then a master’s in sports management at Eastern Kentucky University, and has been an assistant women’s basketball coach since she started that position as an intern during grad school. She has also coached West middle and high school girls.
“I worked a lot of odd jobs,” she said. “Growing up, it always seemed interesting, but college was the path I took, and I played softball and basketball at Transy and worked at Eastern State (a hospital) during college and after,” she said.
She applied for a position with the Lexington Fire Department right out of college but didn’t get it. Then she ran into a friend she hadn’t seen in years and told him she was thinking about applying for Lexington again, and he told her Nicholasville was hiring, so she applied for both and was accepted. She chose Nicholasville.
“They gave me a chance,” she said. “I had an opportunity to go to Lexington, but I was loyal.”
It was the right choice.
“I love all the guys. They treat me like I’m their sister. It’s such a good environment to work in.”
She wasn’t the first female firefighter for the department. There is currently one other, Megan Rogers, who broke that glass ceiling, and she’s been a Nicholasville firefighter for about seven years. But Bewley is the first woman to attain an officer’s rank in the Nicholasville Fire Department’s 185-year history.
Bewley believes she has found her true vocation.
“I was always curious” about firefighting, she said. “I wanted to know if I could do it, because it can be physically and mentally demanding.”
“I enjoy not being at a desk” and being part of something that is “always changing,” she said.
“Everything is different each day,” she said, and she knows she will have an opportunity to make a difference.
“You’re one of the first people on the scene, and you get to help people during their worst times,” she said.
“It’s hard to find a career where you enjoy waking up and going to work each day,” she said.
Bewley said she would like to encourage other women to become firefighters.
The new lieutenant lives in Nicholasville. She is the daughter of Wilbur and Sandra Bewley and the brother of Travis Bewley.
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