SMITH COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - From the Smith County Fire Marshal's Office
SMITH COUNTY, TX - Connie McCoy-Wasson on Tuesday became the first female to serve as Smith County Fire Marshal.
After interviewing five of the 13 candidates who applied for the job, Smith County Commissioners Court voted unanimously to appoint Mrs. Wasson to fill former Fire Marshal Jay Brook's unexpired term through December 2016. Brooks resigned from the post in October to take a job in the private sector.
Mrs. McCoy-Wasson has more than 20 years of experience as a deputy fire marshal for Smith County and has served as interim fire marshal since October.
"History has been made in Smith County today," Commissioner JoAnn Hampton said. "We have our first female fire marshal who we know will do an awesome job. She has 22 years of experience and was trained by the late Jim Seaton, who was an excellent fire marshal. I think Smith County is lucky to have her."
"I know I have big shoes to fill," Mrs. McCoy-Wasson said. "We've had some wonderful men in that position."
She said Charles Shine and Jim Seaton were inspiring to her and Jay Brooks did a wonderful job as fire marshal. "I hope I can hold up the standards set before me," she said.
Mrs. McCoy-Wasson was hired nearly 23 years ago as a secretary by Shine, Smith County's first Fire Marshal. She soon started to go to fires with him and was in a dress when she fought her first mobile home fire. She realized she wanted to learn how to become a firefighter.
"It's very humbling to see people lose everything," she said of why she wanted to become a firefighter. Being a public servant and first responder, seeing people lose their homes made her want to make a difference and educate people on fire safety.
Mrs. McCoy-Wasson went to school and earned her certifications to become a firefighter, investigator and inspector, as well as earning her peace officer license.
When she started as deputy fire marshal 20 years ago, Mrs. McCoy-Wasson said there were no female firefighters. After they asked her how she could fight fires with long blonde hair and nails, she told the men that her hair would fit underneath a helmet just like theirs did.
She had to earn their respect but once she did, they became like family to her. "I'm momma Connie to a lot of them now," she said.
To now see girls come up to her and tell her they want to follow in her footsteps does her heart good, Mrs. McCoy-Wasson said.
"I never thought about being the first female fire marshal," she said. "I'm very surprised and grateful for the opportunity to serve as fire marshal."
Smith County Judge Joel Baker said Mrs. McCoy- Wasson is a longtime faithful employee who will serve the county well.
"We're excited to have her fill the role of county fire marshal," Judge Baker said.
"She is a top notch candidate and employee who is full of integrity," Commissioner Terry Phillips said. "We're glad to keep her."
Commissioner Cary Nix said he thinks Mrs. McCoy-Wasson is a great hire for the county.
"Connie has done her time. She's got a great rapport with all of the fire departments," Nix said. "She's just a first-class individual."
Commissioner Jeff Warr said Mrs. McCoy-Wasson has proven herself to be an excellent leader and has always put the needs of the county first in her professional life.