By Danza Johnson/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Nikki Parmer hated feeling helpless in her community, so she found a way to help others.
The 22-year-old Mooreville High School graduate is a volunteer firefighter for the Belden Volunteer Fire Department. She also happens to be the unit’s only female firefighter. But if you ask her how it feels to be the lone female, she simply answers, “Am I the only girl?”
“Honestly, they treat me just like one of the guys,” said the mother of one. “We are a family. In fact, I’m just as close to my fire department family as I am my blood relatives. We are there for one another so me being a female is never an issue.”
With her father, Mike Parmer, also being a member of the department, the bond with her firefighting family is even closer.
Many people often ask Parmer why she chose to become a volunteer firefighter. The pay is zero, the hours are erratic and it’s a pretty dangerous job. But she said she loves it.
“I remember growing up and seeing three people I knew die in car accidents and feeling helpless about it,” said Parmer. “And whenever I saw an accident I would want to help but didn’t know how. So one day I heard about volunteering as a fireman, so I jumped in.”
She joined the Belden unit when she was 18 years old. Parmer said she will never forget her first fire, which was only a grass fire, but to her it was just as exciting as any other.
“I was nervous at first but after my adrenaline started pumping I got such a rush from helping put it out,” she said. “Someone was trying to burn off some brush and it got away from them. Us being there helped to make sure the fire didn’t spread to the house. That day I knew I’d made the right decision to join.”
She lives in the same community she helps protect, which makes her commitment even more important.
“If you don’t know the person needing help, someone on the truck knows them,” Parmer said. “So you are working to help the people you see every day. That makes things a little more intense.”
Parmer also helps people full time, making sure they look good. She has completed cosmetology school and is waiting to take her state board test to get licensed.
“I love what I do,” she said. “And I will continue to volunteer to help the community I love.”