Tucson firefighter trailblazer retires, leaves lasting legacy

Published: Jun. 24, 2015 at 6:45 PM MST|Updated: Feb. 28, 2018 at 5:17 PM MST
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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - One of Tucson Fire Department's first female firefighters is retiring on Friday, after serving for more than two decades.

Tucson Fire Captain Diana Benson became the third woman in Tucson to be hired as a Tucson firefighter in 1990. She later became the first ever female lead training officer.

Benson is also part of the highly specialized technical rescue team that handles swift-water, rope and extrication rescues.

"This has been an incredible career," said Benson, "And I was just so fortunate to be able to do it for 25 years and to be able to retire healthy and for the most part unscathed, that's what I'm really blessed and thankful for."

Being among the department's few women firefighters, however, did present some challenges.

"We were all using the same restroom, we were all in the same dorm room, in a big bunk house. Things have changed for the better in regards to some personal privacy that comes to being in a fire station and having our own dorm rooms," Benson said.

Congresswoman Martha McSally recently acknowledged Benson's accomplishments on the U.S. House floor, calling her a pioneer and a role model.

"No doubt Captain Benson's positive impact on the department and legacy of excellence lasting over two decades will be lasting," McSally said.

McSally witnessed Benson passing on that legacy earlier this year at Camp Fury, an event that encourages teen girls to pursue a career in public safety.

"We tell them there every time, it's not something that's going to be handed to you," Benson said. "You're going to have to go out there, you have to work hard, you have to set your goals, but you can do it."

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