Murfreesboro Fire & Rescue Department’s first female Firefighter is retiring after 32 years of service. Mary Madding began her career with MFRD in July 1982.
Her retirement will be effective July 20.
Madding recalls how it felt to be the only female Firefighter at MFRD. “It was tough being the only female in a traditionally all-male career,” she said. “I found it hard to fit in and always felt like I had to work harder to prove myself.”
She says her worst day at the fire department was her first day. “I remember I got sent to the engine and told to pick off tools. They said not to come back until I got them. I went to the engine and I didn’t know one tool from the other. I never felt so overwhelmed.”
When asked how she overcame that feeling, she credits retired Captain Ronald Jones. “He was so good to me. He told me, ‘Don’t worry, you’ll get it. We’ll work on it together and you will learn it.’”
Her best day at the fire department was in August 2011 when Kaye Jernigan was promoted to Assistant Chief. “Maybe, I should say it was my proudest day,” said Madding. “It was awesome to see a fellow female rise through the ranks in the department.”
Madding, who remembers when engine companies were only allowed to leave the station to respond to a fire, says it is much different now. “We are out in our territories a lot now, with more visibility in the community. I think this is one of the most positive changes I’ve seen since I’ve been at the department.” Madding said she has always loved participating in community and public relations events, meeting the citizens she serves.
“Working for MFRD, I’ve had the opportunity to meet a lot of people, create many relationships, and watch a lot of kids grow up,” she commented. “Serving my community has allowed me to become a better person, a more humble person, and I am eternally grateful for that.”
Madding plans to spend her retirement getting much deserved rest and with her grandkids.
“We are very appreciative of the hard work and dedication Madding has provided the department over the years. The foundation she laid for female firefighters in this community is solid and she will be missed,” said Chief Cumbey Gaines.