Heart of the Pines Fire Department just elected it's new fire chief this week.
Mizzy Zdroj is the first female fire chief in the department's 38-years of existence. She says it's about 3.7% of females in the fire service nationwide. And adds, even though the Heart of the Pines Fire Department is volunteer based, and she started in the service later than most people, over the years she's realized her purpose.
"It's just a humbling experience. To stand in a room full of the bravest men I've never met in my life, and have them have the confidence in my ability to lead them to make me chief so I'm just astounded."
On Sunday June 24th, history was made in Bastrop County.
"I've got it in my blood, grandfather, uncles and now to look at it, it's like wow it's been a wild ride."
Zdroj comes from a lineage of firefighters. Her 15-year-old son Ashron says he became a Junior Fire at 8-years-old because his mom inspires him every day. "I think that's an amazing step that she's taken from all the years of hardship that we've been through. It's a very inspiring thing that she's worked her way up in the ranks,” he says.
Karli Harris joined as a volunteer two weeks ago. When the Bastrop fires happened, it was very close to her home so she, her family, and pets had to evacuate.
Her family called on Zdroj to fight the fire. “Mizzy is like really inspiring so she doesn't have to teach me a lot because I like pick it up from her when I'm just over there visiting and hanging out with the boys, I notice all the things that she does as a really strong woman. It really inspires me because it's everything I strive to be like I want to be that way when I get older,” Harris says.
Zdroj says she not only sees strong characteristics in prospects Karli, but in the rest of her department as well. "More than signs all these firefighters have galvanized together to rebuild. We've been through 3 massive wildfires in our district, pretty much all of us have lost our homes so those of us who remain, remain strong."
She says often times, while the Heart of the Pines Fire Department is out fighting fires, their own homes will be burning down. That happened to her in 2011, and Zdroj had just enough time to grab her purse and something very important that belonged to her late grandfather- his shield.
His badge was recovered after the fire. "This shield was my grandfather's his name was Captain Dean Large and he was one of the most amazing people you'd ever want to meet. He still rides with me."
And now that she's made history as the first female chief at the Heart of the Pines Fire Department -- she knows one thing for certain. "He was never a man of many words but he would smile a mile wide, he would smile a mile wide."
Mizzy Zdroj also says in the last six months the department has received four new volunteers. If you live or work near the Heart of the Pines to become a volunteer email her at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’d like to promote Junior Fire, it is ages 15 to 18 (contact the same email address).