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First female firefighter in city’s 163-year history joins Elizabeth fire department

ELIZABETH, NJ — A 35-year-old mom of three became the first woman to join the city of Elizabeth's fire department during a graduation ceremony Friday at city hall.

Sheena Spence graduated alongside a class of 19 other new fire officers, all men.

"It's an honor," said Spence, who received a standing ovation. "I did it to prove to myself that a woman of 35 can still do anything that she puts her mind to. Also, I have daughters that I want them to know that there is no barriers that you can’t overcome with a little hard work, faith and patience."

Daughters Iree, 8, and Inay, 7, gave mom a big bouquet of flowers.

"I think she really deserves this," Iree said.

Spence's father, Fire Captain Darryl Robinson, proudly placed the pin upon his daughter's uniform that made it official. Robinson has been serving the Elizabeth Fire Department for 33 years.

"She is a hard worker," Robinson said. "I just said 'do your best.' And she did fine."

Several female members of Newark's fire department also came to show their support for Spence.

"It's a great day for Elizabeth but more importantly it's a great day for Sheena," Elizabeth Mayor Chris Bollwage said. "I mean Sheena worked hard. She finished high enough on the list. She wanted to become a fire officer. And we’re proud to promote the daughter of a fire captain as the first female officer here in the city."

Spence’s first day on the job could come as early as Sunday.