Kelly Morgan faces her worst fear every time she goes to work. The Scottsdale firefighter has two children, 18 and 20, and she thinks about them when the fire department is called to the scene of a car crash.
“The people that get hurt the worst — it’s not always their fault,” she said. “It hits home the most because of my own kids. It’s my biggest fear.”
Morgan, 38, doesn’t look like a typical firefighter.
Tall, tan, with shoulderlength blond hair, she looks like she would be at home surfing in California.
Instead, she juggles 24-hour shifts for the Scottsdale Fire Department, teaching classes at Scottsdale Community College and spending time with her family.
Morgan also didn’t start her working life as a firefighter.
She thought she wanted to be a nurse, and after years of working in a hospital purchasing department began taking night classes to become a registered nurse.
After taking a course in emergency medical technician training, however, she changed her mind.
“I like the challenge of being a firefighter,” she said. “The physical aspect, the variety of calls and not being stuck inside a hospital all day.”
So, at 29, Morgan was one of the oldest students in the fire academy.
She said the decision to change her career wasn’t easy — she had worked in a stable job for 12 years.
“It was a big jump,” she said, but her children were supportive.
“They thought it was really cool,” she said. “I wouldn’t have done it if I
thought it was going to be negative.”
Now, about nine years later, the other firefighters at Station One in south Scottsdale are like family.
“It’s like having 12 brothers,” she said. The other firefighters tease her like a sister, for sure, but she has earned their respect.
“As long as you show you can do it, whether you’re a guy or a girl . . . you earn everybody’s respect one way or another,” she said.
As one of three women in the fire department, Morgan stands out.
“I don’t want to be treated any different from anybody else,” she said.
Morgan knew Station One was the busiest in Scottsdale. It has three trucks, as opposed to the usual one.
Someday she may want to move to a slower station and become a captain, she said, but for now she’s happy where she is.
“I knew if I could work at Station One, I could be able to make it at any station.”