SPARTANSBURG — A Spartansburg volunteer firefighter just made department history as the first woman line officer in the Spartansburg Volunteer Fire Department.
Samantha Howard, 29, has been with the SVFD for six and a half years and was nominated for the position of second lieutenant in November by Chief Berry Herberg. When elections were held in December, she became the first female officer in the department’s history.
Chief Herberg said that SVFD “has been very fortunate to have had over a dozen young people join the department in the past several years. Sam is one of them.”
“She has put in the time and effort and earned her spot as a lieutenant,” Herberg said.
Howard grew up in Waterford and is a 2009 graduate of Harborcreek Baptist Christian School and a 2013 graduate of Edinboro University. Following graduation, she married Brian Howard and moved to Spartansburg. She is currently a substitute teacher in the Union City Area School District.
“I had not intended to join the department,” Howard said. “But Brian joined and I was helping out a lot. Chief Herberg said, ‘You’re here all the time so you might as well join.’ So I joined within six months of moving to Spartansburg.”
SVFD currently has eight female volunteer firefighters. Some are trained only in EMS and others in both EMS and fire.
“We have quite a few women in the department,” Howard said. “We’re all very opinionated and not afraid to speak up. We’re all hard workers and the chiefs know we can handle a ladder and a saw.”
Howard admits she is not afraid to go to a chief to help address a problem. “We all have a common respect for one another and we get along with each other.
“I’ve been trained to do it all, but I work well with trauma,” Howard added. “If they need me to crawl into an attic, I’ll go. If they need me on the roof cutting with a saw, I’ll do that. If they want me on ladder, I’ll do that. If they want me on nozzle, I’m there. It just depends on the call.
“Anyone will tell you we are incredibly fortunate as a department to have all the people we have. No matter what the call — trees down, fire, EMS — many people respond to the call. It’s a great group of people.”