Woman Achieves Dream of Becoming Firefighter at 53

“I just took one day at a time”

A 53-year-old Maryland woman is living proof that it's never too late to make your dreams a reality.

Carmen Hackett has been an EMT for 20 years, but says she always wanted to be on the front lines fighting fires.

Hackett, who is from Prince George's County, was older than all of her training classmates and even some of her teachers, but that never discouraged her.

“I just took one day at a time,” she said. “I tried to do what was asked of me to the best of my ability.”

The physically grueling test took Hackett three tries to pass.

“I wasn’t gonna let it defeat me. I was gonna get it eventually,” she said. And she did.

During the firefighting training graduation ceremony, Hackett teared up and said she loved her teammates like her own children.

“I’m old enough to be some of their mamas,” she said to laughter.

Hackett earned a position at the Tenleytown fire station in the District. Thrilled to have found her calling, Hackett said she tries to show up early — two hours before her shift starts.

“I like helping people. I like knowing that I’m making a difference,” she said. “We see people on their worst days, and if I can do something to make their days better, I’m grateful.”

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