Allanah Turner breaks barrier as Gulfport’s first Black female firefighter
GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - Not long ago, Allanah Turner was a high school track star and she was a college basketball star. Now, at age 20, she’s a rock star with the Gulfport Fire Department.
“She is absolutely a rock star,” said Eric Valles, Gulfport Fire Department chief of training. “We love having her here. She’s an asset to our team. She is a great representative of our fire department.”
Turner began the department’s fire academy in the summer of 2021. She graduated in September.
And, it hasn’t been easy being only the second female in the department.
“In the department, you have guys that are stronger than you, faster than you, more athletic than you,” she said. “So, growing up, I’ve always been really good at my sport - exceptional at my sport. So, I’m just not used to it. But, I’ll adapt and get better as well.”
Quitting has never been part of her mindset.
“No. It was always fuel to the fire,” Turner said. “I never allowed myself to feel like I could never do a job.”
When it comes to the typical teasing that rookies get, she said she can give as well as take.
“As much as they mess around with me, I mess around with them,” she said. “It’s always fun. Family oriented. You can’t allow them to hurt your feelings, you know? So, you gotta hurt them back.”
In truth, she has been well accepted by her fellow firefighters.
“She represents an extremely underrepresented demographic, you know, as a female in the fire service, black female in the fire service,” Valles said. “It’s huge. She’s an inspiration to all the other young, black females in the community. Others in the department respect her also because she’s earned her position just like they have.”
Turner said this was the only job she’s ever wanted. Anything else, she said, would have been too easy.
Why? “Just to be a pioneer for the younger girls under me, black girls specifically,” she said. “We don’t have a lot of women in this career field, let alone black women. So, just doing that and giving back to my community is the biggest thing for me.”
Turner added that for her, Black History Month means “breaking barriers” and “breaking generational curses.”
Want more WLOX news in your inbox? Click here to subscribe to our newsletter.
Copyright 2022 WLOX. All rights reserved.