Springfield’s first female firefighter retires
By Valerie Lough
Sept. 8, 2010
SPRINGFIELD — The first time Diane Arbogast saw a fire engine, it was the day she reported for training at a new job — as a firefighter.
And, all those doo dads on the engine’s pump panel looked pretty intimidating.
“You look at something like that the first time and go ... ‘Ok,’ ” said Arbogast.
Twenty-five years later, Arbogast, the first female firefighter at the Springfield Fire Division, retired Wednesday, Sept. 8.
But, as a child, putting out fires wasn’t her dream. She thought she might be a nurse.
“I’m not a nurse, but I do take care of people,” she said.
Arbogast found her way to the Springfield Fire Division in search of a better job with good benefits.
In other attempts to get a solid job in 1985, some prospective employers told Arbogast flat-out that they preferred to hire a man for the job.
But when she joined the fire division that same year, the climate was much more welcoming, she said.
“All the guys were always just super,” she said.
Fellow firefighter John Sells said Arbogast’s nurturing instinct made her a natural in the job.
“I think a lot of people will describe her as motherly,” said Sells. “I’ve never seen her get mad.”
Arbogast plans to continue with her second job in the emergency room at Springfield Medical Center and enjoying her eight grandchildren and great grandchild.
Her voice cracked as she spoke of what she would miss the most about her job — the people she worked with.
“It’s like a big family ... they’ve become my second family,” she said.