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By Brittni Henderson
Sometimes our dreams come true. Greenville’s Kelsey Brackett is living proof.
Kelsey Brackett is Smithfield’s only female firefighter, a job she imagined doing from a young age. Hard work, a willingness to learn, strong family support and single-minded focus got her there.
“I really would never want to be anything else,” she said just days before her swearing-in on Jan. 30.
As a determined young woman from the start, Brackett never settled for mediocrity. From a young age she knew what she wanted in her life—and she made it happen. She turned a longtime goal into a career. And she never let her gender act as a roadblock in a field dominated by men.
Brackett, 26, grew up in Chepachet, graduated from Ponaganset High School in 2007, and now lives in Greenville. As a young girl she was convinced a career in healthcare would be the perfect fit. When she was 15, however, Brackett shadowed a close friend’s father at work as a firefighter/EMT for the Harmony Fire Department. The high-intensity and life-saving fire department environment changed her mind about her future.
Brackett earned her EMT Basic license when she was 17. Two years later she earned a paramedic license. With those two licenses in hand she studied for the tests to apply for firefighter jobs in Rhode Island.
She has learned there is more to the job that acquiring licenses and passing technical tests.
“Teamwork and communication are two of the most important skills,” Brackett said. She learned the value of the traits from playing team sports.
“To be a winning team, everyone needs to communicate,” she said. “We need to let each other know what’s going on, when something doesn’t look right, or what needs to get done.”
Growing up in a household with two brothers helps now that she works in a mostly male environment.
“Whether we are joking around or helping each other out with whatever needed to get done, it’s always a fun time,” Brackett said. “On our downtime we keep things clean, fix whatever’s broken, read new articles or magazines, and do a lot of training.”
Brackett is assigned to the Farnum Pike station in Georgiaville.
Brackett asserts that gender doesn’t matter when you are on the job.
“I think if you can do the job, there shouldn’t be any gender bias,” she says.
Brackett also attributes her success to her mentor, Gary Pinault.
“My Captain, Mike LeBlanc, assigned [him] as my mentor,” she said. “He’s very knowledgeable and open to help with anything I have questions about. With all of his experience, he’s able to give me tips and pointers on how to do certain tasks. Work smarter, not harder!”
Brackett was officially hired by the Smithfield Fire Department on May 1, 2015, and after successfully completing probation was sworn in on Jan. 30. She loves keeping busy by responding to emergency calls and asserts that she does not have one “least favorite” part of her job.
Outside of work, Brackett enjoys spending time with her husband, infant son, working out at the gym, taking her dog for walks, and supporting her beloved New England Patriots. She is grateful for the unconditional love and support that she received from her husband and family as she strived for her goal to work as a firefighter.
“They never told me I couldn’t do it,” said Brackett.
She never pondered or even daydreamed about doing something else with her life.
Having reached her dream, Brackett offers others pursuing their own dreams this advice: “Always give 110 percent and never give up.”