Hometown Hero--Capt. Tonia Snelling - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

09/28/07

Hometown Hero--Capt. Tonia Snelling

Left to right: Mayor Otis Johnson, newly promoted Capt. Tonia Snelling, and Chief Charles Middleton. Left to right: Mayor Otis Johnson, newly promoted Capt. Tonia Snelling, and Chief Charles Middleton.

A Savannah woman achieved today what no other female ever has. After 11 years on the Savannah Fire Department, Tonia Snelling became the first female to be promoted to the rank of captain.

"Amazing, just knowing I'm following in line behind so many other people that have gone and served," Capt. Snelling said. "It's just absolutely amazing."

She's assigned to the department's training unit and will be showing rookies the ropes.

"I've seen a lot of fire that a lot of other people have not had that opportunity, and with the training I've had it will be good to share that with other people," said Snelling.

She said she enjoys the camaraderie she has with other firefighters and getting out into the community teaching kids about fire safety. She said there is simply no other job like it.

"You get to break doors down, you get to rescue people, you have to think about what you are going to do and how you are going to do it as far as ventilation, raising the ladder, the search and rescue and actually trying to find people," Snelling said. "It's very challenging and rewarding."

Snelling is one of only eight female firefighters currently on the department. There are more than 300 men. She hopes as a training captain, she can interest more women in becoming firefighters.

She's proof that the sky is the limit. "It's nice that I've had the opportunity to kind of lead the way and break down a couple of barriers."

Capt. Tonia Snelling, making history and saving lives. She is this week's WTOC Hometown Hero.

Reported by: Michelle Paynter, mpaynter@wtoc.com

If you'd like to nominate a Hometown Hero, you can drop us a line at the station: PO Box 8086, Savannah, GA 31412, or email  us.

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