FREEHOLD TOWNSHIP – The Freehold Township Independent Fire Company No. 1, Stillwells Corner Road, has installed the first female president in the history of the organization.
Rachel Mitzelman was installed as president for 2022 during the fire company’s installation dinner in January.
The Freehold Township Independent Fire Company No. 1 is one of two fire companies in Freehold Township. The fire company serves the area west of Route 9. The area east of Route 9 in Freehold Township is served by the East Freehold Fire Company No. 2.
Mitzelman has lived in Freehold Township for 23 years. She began her emergency medical services (EMS) career in 2011 after she turned 16. Mitzelman joined Freehold EMS, which serves residents of Freehold Township and Freehold Borough.
“I saw a sign outside the municipal building advertising that members were needed and I joined as soon as I was of age,” she said. “I started out by becoming an emergency medical technician and realized quickly that I had a passion for being on the ambulance and helping people.”
After a few years, Mitzelman advanced her EMS career by becoming a paramedic. That designation allowed her to work closely with local fire departments and she eventually joined the Freehold Township Independent Fire Company No. 1.
“I instantly fell in love with being a firefighter and giving back to my hometown in a different way,” she said. “Within my first year in the fire company, I was Firefighter 1 certified and became the secretary. I slowly worked my way up the executive chain to vice president and eventually president.”
Mitzelman credited her brother, Christopher Norton, as one of her biggest influences. He was an EMT with Freehold EMS and a firefighter with Freehold Township Independent Fire Company No. 1 before her.
“I am incredibly proud to have been elected as the president of Freehold Township Independent Fire Company No. 1, not only because I am the first female, but being the president in general is an incredible accomplishment,” Mitzelman said.
“It means a great deal to me that my brothers and sisters in the department trust me with this responsibility and have afforded me the opportunity to represent them.
“It has been an honor and privilege to serve my hometown in the ways I have been able to over the last 10 years. I have worked incredibly hard to achieve all that I have in that time and will continue to work hard in order to keep serving to the best of my abilities,” she said.
“I want to convey through my efforts that with hard work and dedication anything can be achieved. I never would have believed I was capable of accomplishing half the things I have when it comes to my time in emergency services until I started working toward them.
“The fact that this industry is predominantly male-dominated has never once intimidated me or prevented me from doing just as much, if not more than anyone else. I want to express to any young women who may read this that they are capable of far more than they believe they are and I hope I am able to provide some shred of proof of that,” Mitzelman said.