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First Female Firefighter

Tracy L. Bisbing is Back
or should I say Tracy L. Johnson
by David J. McNeese, Sr.

The Bisbing Family has a long standing of its family being members of the Jackson Township Volunteer Fire Company of Reeders, PA, starting sometime in the 70’s with Tracy’s grandfather George W. Bisbing.

However in the fall of 1988, Tracy L. Bisbing joined the fire company and became the first female firefighter for the Jackson Township Volunteer Fire Company and volunteered for nine years, before getting married and moving away in 1997.

Well it is now 2023 and some 35 years later of her joining and she is now back again. While Tracy doesn’t have any horses anymore and Fox Run Stables closed up in the late 90’s. Her love for the Fire Company and her community continue. Unfortunately not as a firefighter but as an associate member. She still wants to continue volunteering with the fire company and assisting her community. Remember, You don’t have to be a firefighter to want to help. We have bingos, fundraisers, and other events that keep the fire company going.

For more information on Tracy’s story please see the below article that was published in The Pocono Record on Sunday, July 2, 1989.

Side Notes:

According to the National Fire Administrative as of 2023
5% of all career firefighters are women.
11% of the volunteer fire service is women.
12% of federal wildland firefighters are women.

Female firefighters have also become officers, from Lieutenants, Captains, Battalion Chiefs and Deputy Chiefs. While some of these titles are mostly used in paid services.

A fireman is some who stokes furnaces or takes care of boilers.

“Firefighter”

The Pocono Record, Sunday, July 2, 1989

About People

Tracy Bisbing

Text by Robert Lenihan

REEDERS – It began with a box of flares, and Tracy Bisbing’s career as a female fire fighter has been burning bright ever since.

Bisbing, 18 the only active female member of the Jackson Township Volunteer Fire Company, got her start with the company around nine months ago, when she and her brother went to the scene of a car accident.

“We were sitting around at the firehouse,” she says, “and we saw all these lights. We figured it must be a wreck. When we got to the accident, my brother handed me a box of flares…the Monday night after the accident, I joined. When they asked all those in favor of my joining the company, nobody said “nay”.”

Bisbing and her brother followed their father’s footsteps – or boot steps – and joined the Jackson Township Volunteer Fire Company. But still – a firewoman? We may be entering the 1990’s but women who try to break ground in traditionally male territory often find themselves running smack dab into a wall of chauvinist resistance.

However, according to its star, sexism wasn’t a factor in The Bisbing Story.

“There was only one guy who said something,” explains Bisbing, and he was only kidding.”

Okay, but Jackson Township Fire Chief Kenny Strausser Sr. isn’t kidding when he praises Tracy as a valuable member of the company.

“Tracy is a really good worker, “ Strausser says. “We have other ladies in the company, but Tracy is our only active female member. We’ve had no problems and we treat everyone equally.”

And if that isn’t enough, Bisbing proved she was no fluke when she knocked out a perfect score on her basic firefighting course.

The only other people to score that well were her brother and her boyfriend, but before you shout “fix!”, please note they were not sitting anywhere near each other.

At a recent firefighting class, Bisbing also did well handling a hose, unlike some of her male classmates who were sent to the canvass by the powerful jets of water.

Bisbing says she enjoys the comradery of being a firefighter. The team spirit is a vast improvement over a previous job, where she sat by herself in a darkroom and was not to talk to anyone. Firefighters stick together.

“Every now and then, I’LL say “fireman” Bisbing admits, “and then one of the guys will say “you can’t say “fireman” any more.”

To date, Bisbing has dealt with more accidents then fires, but she said she is ready to handle the big calls when they happen. Like her male counterparts, she has had to make some adjustments in her life, like wearing a beeper, listening to the police scanner, and jumping out of the shower when the fire whistle goes off.

While she doesn’t have a regular exercise program to develop her muscles, Bisbing keeps in shape by pursing her other love, horses, which has been a part of her life since she was born. Or even sooner.

It seems Bisbing’s mother, Mary, was riding horses while she was carrying Tracy. So, technically, Tracy was riding horses before she was born.

“She also fell off before she was born, too,” Mary Bisbing says with a laugh.

“That might explain a lot,” Tracy says.

A walk through the Bisbing home shows a love for animals in general, and horses in particular. The family has three horses and when it gets to be supper time, her mother’s horse, Miami Vice, lets out a loud whinny to let the humans know to get the chow. Horse show trophies line the shelves and chains of multi-colored ribbons hang on the walls.

“I’ve got three garbage bags full of ribbons,” Bisbing says. “I don’t care much for ribbons. The trophies last longer.”

When she was 13, Bisbing drove a team of horses. She has been competing in horse shows for years, and she serves as a tour guide for Fox Run Stables.

Besides the horse, the family has three cats, three dogs, and two rats – yes, rats, but, honestly, they’re very nice rats. The Bisbings had a whole bunch of them at one time, but decided on keeping two males, so there won’t be any families popping out of nowhere.

For now, Bisbing plans to keep things running as they are. She’ll stay on as a firefighter and, of course, there’s nothing that could ever take her away from her horses. Well…

“The only way I’d leave,” she says, “would be if someone offered me a job as a full-time firefighter. Then I’d say okay, let’s go’…but I’d want to come back and visit my horses.”

*This re-type was copied from the original faded article that The Pocono Record posted. It has been typed exactly as it was with no changes or corrections.