Naomi Teramoto didn’t wait long before she joined Greenwood’s Volunteer Fire Department — at least, not long after she and her husband Doug moved to Canada’s smallest city. Having moved to town in August 2020, they were in uniform by Thanksgiving.
But Teramoto said she might’ve gone into firefighting sooner, only she grew up thinking the service wasn’t for her.
“When I was a kid, I always admired firefighters and I thought, ‘Oh, wouldn’t it be great? But, I can’t join because I’m a girl.’” She’s not one to live in regret, but she’d be the first to encourage other little girls to sign up when they grow up.
“If I could only go back and smack myself upside the head and say, ‘Yes, you can!’ I’m doing it now and I’m over 50 years old.”
She’d been hung up on her age, too. Luckily enough, Fire Chief Roy Terashita didn’t have to smack anybody or travel back in time for her to see past her last hesitation.
As Teramoto put it, “I thought I might be too old for it, but Roy told me, ‘Heck no!’”
Leaving her doubts behind, she looked instead to all the reasons to join the department.
She and Doug were new to Greenwood and the social aspect was a compelling draw. “It was a great opportunity to get to know other people and to learn something new.”
Putting it differently, she said she wanted to be a part of her community, not just live in it. You can’t have a volunteer fire department without volunteers, she explained.
Doug felt the same way, so they signed up together.
But women don’t need to join with their male partners. Asked what she’d tell women and girls who might be thinking about joining up, Teramoto didn’t hold back her encouragement.
“I’d say, ‘Don’t hesitate!’ At the very least, try it out!”