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‘Heart and willpower': FF/EMT twins among 27 women at Ky. fire department

Erin and Ashley Lucas are the only set of twins on the staff of the Lexington Fire Department, and they said that sometimes makes work a little more interesting


Twins Erin and Ashley Lucas pose for a photo at the Lexington Fire Department Training Academy on Feb. 27, 2024, Lexington, Ky.

Tasha Poullard/TNS

By Karla Ward
Lexington Herald-Leader

LEXINGTON, Ky. — When the nurses at local hospitals kept seeing identical twin firefighters Erin and Ashley Lucas working on ambulance runs with the Lexington Fire Department day after day, they grew a little concerned.

“They’re like, ‘Good Lord, do you ever take a break?’” Erin Lucas said.

The nurses didn’t realize they were seeing double.

Erin and Ashley Lucas are the only set of twins on the staff of the Lexington Fire Department, and they said that sometimes makes work a little more interesting.

They’re among just 27 women on the Lexington Fire Department, which has a fire service staff of 562, said District Chief Derek Roberts.

Women made up just 4.4% of the nation’s firefighter workforce in 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The National Fire Protection Association said there were 17,200 women working as career firefighters that year, though the number of female career and volunteer firefighters was much higher, at 89,600.

As women in a male-dominated field, the Lucas twins said they feel good when they’re out on runs and girls or young women see them at work, and they want to encourage more women to go into the field.

“You just have to have the heart and willpower,” Ashley Lucas said. “Don’t be afraid to go out there and try whatever you want to.”

“Everyone’s treated the same,” Erin said. “Come on out.”

Roberts said the Lexington Fire Department has worked in recent years to increase its female workforce by holding camps — named in honor of Lexington’s first Black female firefighter, Brenda Cowan — to introduce young women to the fire service. He said the fire department also supports the Fayette County Public Schools’ Eastside Technical Center, which has a firefighting and EMS career pathway, and the department has tried to “increase our name recognition” by supporting its male and female Firefighter Combat Challenge teams.

“This is no secret, but the job of the traditional fire service has been a white male dominated workforce for a long time,” Roberts said in an email. “I know we as a department are more aware of that fact and are working to recruit and attract a more diverse workforce across the board and a workforce that more accurately reflects our community.”

Erin Lucas said she likes “giving back to the community we grew up in.”

The sisters grew up in Lexington and graduated from Paul Laurence Dunbar High school. They attended Midway University and both worked for AMR, which provides ambulance services, before joining the fire department.

While everyone on the fire department is equipped to work as a firefighter and an EMT, there are also areas of specialty, and working as a paramedic is the path both sisters have chosen.

Erin Lucas said she’s always known she wanted to be a paramedic, and she enjoys the variety the work offers.

“No day’s the same,” she said. “You never know what you’re going to walk into.”

While Erin joined the department in 2018 and has since become a paramedic, Ashley came aboard three years ago and is in the department’s paramedic training program now.

“As an EMT you can only do so much,” Ashley said. Becoming a paramedic will allow her to handle procedures EMTs can’t.

Ultimately, Erin said she aspires to become a lieutenant, where she could “take everything I’ve learned ... and pass it down to other generations who are going to be applying and coming out to this department.”

She recently was part of the fire department’s first all-female ambulance crew. While the crews change frequently, depending on who is working, she and her co-workers told WKYT they enjoy a close relationship.

“Most times, you don’t even have to communicate. You go out on a call, and your crew knows what you want and knows what you need,” Erin Lucas told the television station.

The sisters live together, but they don’t necessarily see a lot of each other at work. One works first shift, and the other works second. Ashley is assigned to Station 14 on Versailles Road , while Erin is at Station 5 on Third Street .

“It kind of works out,” Erin said.

“I’m blessed to be at a good house,” Ashley said. “I’m enjoying how close-knit we are.”

The sisters have an especially close bond.

As twins, Ashley said, “you’re either close or not. We do everything together.”

But the sisters said they also have a tight-knit relationship with their co-workers, who have also become like family.

“It’s a lot of fun,” Erin said.

“I loved how it was family-oriented,” Ashley said. “They made me feel at home.”

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