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Elkhart's first female firefighter to retire from active duty completes last shift

ELKHART, Ind. - The Elkhart Fire Department’s first female to retire from active duty completed her last shift ever Friday evening. Now, she’s reflecting on the ‘dream job’ that fueled her fire for decades.

“It’s bittersweet. I’m going out the way I wanted to go out. I’m retiring, but it’s my dream job,” said now retired Elkhart Fire Captain Allyson Womack.

Being a firefighter was her dream job since she watched her parents race into fires growing up.

“[I would be] sitting in the car, watching them do what they did, and I’ve never wanted to do anything else. That was it,” she said.

Womack started out as a volunteer at Concord, and later joined Elkhart about 20 years ago with a  class of eight—half of whom were female.

“I pretty much was just one of the guys and that’s how I acted and how I approached the job, doing it the way they do it as hard as they do it,” said Womack.

“Anyone can do the job if they have the mind and heart to do it. She had the mind and heart to do it, and she did it,” said Ronald Mischler, fellow firefighter and Captain Womack’s driver.

“I sat every position on this. I was the hydrant person first, and then I was the driver, and then I turned into the officer/captain,” said Womack.

For the past four years, Ronald Mischler served as Captain Womack’s driver on Engine Three.

“We have a lot of fun working together. She was probably one of my favorite officers to work for…She’s very thorough. There is no curves in the road. It’s by the book. If the book says we’re doing it this way, that’s the way it’s going to be done,” said Mischler.

Off duty, the Elkhart Fire Department also opened the door to love.

“I didn’t see her. I heard her, and when I heard her voice, see you just heard her right there, it really made me wonder who that was, and I was really interested when I heard her voice,” said Allyson’s husband, Paul Womack.

Now, they’ve been married for 15 years.

“I wouldn’t be who I am without her, and as far as the fire department goes, she is almost invaluable. She will be hard to replace out there with station three,” said Paul.

As she hangs up her gear one last time—and kisses her granddaughter—Captain Womack is looking back on the passion that fueled her fire for decades.

“I’m going to miss going out to the scenes. I’m going to miss being a medic. That puzzle to put it together and actually help somebody and possibly save a life is something I can’t explain,” she said.

Now that Captain Womack is leaving, one fire chief says there will only be four female firefighters out of their 128 in total.

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