Perth Amboy swears in 1st female career firefighter

PERTH AMBOY, New Jersey (WABC) -- It is an honorable occasion any time brave men and women pledge their lives and service to their communities, and for this first time in Perth Amboy, a woman is taking the oath.

Twenty-four-year-old Arielle Bonilla already pledged her life once before, to her country as she spent five years in the Navy. Now, she follows two of her brothers who serve in the city's fire department.

"I thought it was very challenging," she said. "But I'm also a go getter, so I wanted to live up to their standards, be in their shoes one day. And I finally did it."

It took 135 years, but Perth Amboy finally has a career firefighter that is female.

Bonilla is a young woman fire Chief Abraham Pitre has known since she was a kid, and there's plenty of family history there.

"Her mom and I worked at police dispatch," Pitre said. "I used to make paper airplanes for her and her brothers. To see them now is a great moment in their careers, as we reach the twilight of ours."

The department may not have to wait too long to add more women, as Perth Amboy was just awarded a $1.1 million grant to add eight more firefighters. There are a few women on the list who are interested, and Bonilla said she's more than ready for the work and to be a role model.

"I hope little girls will see me, and I can be a hero in their eyes," she said. "That they can follow their dreams."
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