SPRINGFIELD, NJ — In a swearing-in ceremony held at town hall on Wednesday, Stephanie Bagniewski made history, becoming the first female firefighter that the Springfield Fire Department has ever had.
Bagniewski was appointed as a probationary firefighter at the Springfield Township Committee meeting on Tuesday. With her history-making appointment and swearing-in, Bagniewski becomes the 82nd career firefighter in the department. The Springfield Fire Department has been organized as a career fire department since 1929.
Bagniewski is a graduate from the Union County Fire Academy. Prior to her time in the academy, she graduated from Cranford High School, as well as Marywood University in Pennsylvania. Additionally, she also has several years of experience as a volunteer firefighter in Cranford.
While enrolled at the academy, she received the Battalion Chief Ken Nocera Memorial Award for Outstanding Excellence, which denotes who has the highest grade point average in the class.
Speaking with TAPinto after being sworn in, she said that she was looking forward to officially joining the department, and that being the first female firefighter in department history was a humbling feeling.
"It's truly an honor," Bagniewski said. "I know everybody worked equally as hard, and I just feel completely honored to make a difference in the history, and to be a part of Springfield Township."
At the ceremony to support her was her father Edward, her brother Mark and her sister-in-law Jessica, along with members of the fire department and township committee.
Firefighting is something of a family profession for the Bagniewskis, as her father was a captain in the Harrison Fire Department, and her brother is currently a lieutenant in the Cranford Fire Department.
When asked about how it felt to finally be sworn in, Bagniewski said that it was an honor for her to enter the same profession as her father and brother.
"It was kind of surreal, because my dad, his badge number was 18, so I kind of took it as the opposite number one up. [It's] surreal in the moment that I'll finally be able to accomplish my dream position of being a career firefighter."
Bagniewski said she is now looking forward to protecting and serving Springfield, as well as gaining knowledge in the field from more senior firefighters in the department.
For Springfield Fire Chief Carlo Palumbo, the decision to have Bagniewski join the department when she was available was one that he made without hesitation.
"She was outstanding right from the start," Palumbo said. "She stood out from the crowd. She placed in the top four of our whole entire list, so she earned her way to this department, and we're looking forward to having her. It'll be a great thing for the department and a great thing for Springfield."
One thing Palumbo stressed was that even with the other firefighters in her family. Bagniewski had gotten there on her own merits.
"She just stepped up [and] hit a homerun," Palumbo said. "She did this on her own, and it's well deserved. She did it, and she's motivated, and you can see it in her."
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