Merrill Fire Department hires first full-time female firefighter/paramedic
TINA L. SCOTT
The Merrill Fire Department (MFD) hired its first full-time female Firefighter/Paramedic in the Department’s 125-year history in October 2022. Kendall Nelson was sworn in as a MFD Firefighter/Paramedic (FF/P) on her first day of work, Oct. 31, 2022, by Merrill City Clerk Lori Anderson-Malm, officially became the 189th member of the MFD, and made Merrill Fire Department history.
“I am honored to have earned this position as the first female Firefighter/Paramedic in the Department’s history,” Nelson said. “Whether I knew it or not, my journey through life has prepared me in many aspects for the job I was hired to do. I am proud of this historical moment and am even more proud of being the 189th member of the Merrill Fire Department.”
“I am passionate about helping people and to work in a career doing that is incredibly rewarding. Being the first female Firefighter/Paramedic at MFD is a privilege and humbling for many of reasons, but most importantly, I serve as a role model for young people to look up to. I am proof that you can do anything or be anything you want, but you have to work hard for it no matter your gender,” she said. “If my role on the Department influences one person during my career to pursue their dreams or achieve the unachievable, then it was a success.”
Nelson’s first week was orientation, and then she joined her shift, B-Crew, on Nov. 5. “She will complete 10 work shifts before being considered part of the daily minimum staffing. These shifts give her time to learn the basics of the job for our department,” MFD Chief Josh Klug said in a prepared statement.
Nelson isn’t a stranger to the MFD. “Nelson was actually hired as a Limited Term Employee (LTE) by our department in December 2020 to serve as a Community Paramedic during the COVID pandemic,” Klug said. “All of her previous emergency services experience has prepared her for the start of her career with the MFD.”
Nelson graduated from Tomahawk High School in 2012, then attended UW – Stevens Point, Northcentral Technical College (NTC), and Mid-State Technical College (MSTC). She has a Paramedic Associate Degree and also achieved Wisconsin state Firefighter I & II certifications. In addition, she is currently pursuing a Bachelor Degree in Emergency Medical Services from the University of South Alabama.
Prior to joining MFD, Nelson worked as a hospital-based paramedic for Tomahawk EMS since 2015. Then in 2016, she started working for both Tomahawk Fire Department and Mosinee Fire District and at Mosinee FD, advanced to the rank of Lieutenant.
Outside of work, Nelson plays sports and also coaches youth sports including hockey and softball, and is an avid Wisconsin Badger fan, especially for Badger hockey, and attends as many games as she can.
She also belongs to the Fraternal Order of Eagles #584 Women’s Auxiliary.
The MFD is confident Nelson will be a great addition to the staff. “When we looked at her resume and interviewed her, we knew we had a special candidate. We hired the best person for the job. It didn’t matter if it was a male or female,” Klug said.
The MFD will host a badge pinning ceremony for Firefighter/Paramedic Nelson in December. The exact date and time will be announced later, and the public will be invited. “In the meantime, we encourage the public to welcome her to our community,” Klug said. “The MFD is excited to have Kendall as our 189th member.”