By Christine Bryant
The Prairie Township Fire Department has hired its first full-time female firefighter/paramedic.
And Anastasia Toth is certain of one thing – she won’t be the last.
“I am honored and excited to be a part of this department,” she said. “I have amazing mentors and a great crew to learn from. I may be the first female here, but I certainly won’t be the last.”
The 23-year-old Hilliard resident joined the department part-time in December 2021 and has been a part-time firefighter with the Jefferson Township Fire Department since April 2020. She started her full-time role with the Prairie Township Fire Department on Oct. 1, replacing a member who left to take a position with the Columbus Division of Fire.
“Anastasia is a fantastic fit for our organization,” Prairie Township Fire Chief Allen Scott said. “Her strong work ethic and passion for the fire service is exactly what every fire department is looking for.”
He said the Prairie Township community is lucky to have her on staff as a full-time member.
“Being the first female, full-time firefighter in Prairie Township is a milestone for her and sets a positive example for any female who desires to become a firefighter,” Scott said. “The fire service was a male-dominated profession for many years. That ceiling was broken a long time ago in many departments around the country and we’re so proud to be able to say it’s happened here, too.”
Although Toth says she was initially interested in becoming an engineer, one of her high school teachers left a lasting impression on her.
“My history teacher sophomore year, Tim Cave, was a retired firefighter and had a lot of fun stories about the firehouse,” Toth said. “Initially what attracted me to this career was the brotherhood and the ability to give back to the community.”
She enrolled in the Delaware Area Career Center’s high school program and graduated in 2017.
“At DACC, Captain Jay Louks further inspired me to become the best firefighter I could be,” Toth said. “Now I can’t imagine doing anything else. I love waking up in the mornings and going to work.”
Toth has two associate degrees in EMS and Fire Science and began medic school in 2020.
In Toth’s spare time, she says she likes to enter competitions that test her skills and endurance.
“This past year I’ve competed in a half-Ironman, half-marathon and two Olympic triathlons,” she said. “Now that I’m out of medic school, I am attempting to learn the banjo as well.”
She also enjoys traveling and camping.
While Toth says she is focused on becoming a great paramedic and firefighter, her goals are to help other firefighters as they join the department. In fact, the department is projected to grow by nine positions at the beginning of 2023 thanks to a $3 million Staffing For Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant from the The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
“I’d like to help others accomplish their goals and be someone that new recruits can come to ask questions and learn from,” Toth said. “This is a great department to be a part of and I’m excited to see where my career takes me.”