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Springfield teen becomes firefighter after next birthday

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Everlee Chandler of Springfield. (AP Photo)

SPRINGFIELD, Mich. (AP) — A 17-year-old Michigan teen has completed a nine-month academy program and passed a state-required test to become a firefighter.

The only thing holding Everlee Chandler from officially joining the ranks of the Springfield Fire Department is her age.

Chandler must wait for her 18th birthday in October before she can run into a burning building, drive a fire engine or be paid by the department.

Chandler told the Battle Creek Enquirer that her father’s work inspired her to pursue fire service. Her dad, Fire Captain Chad Rench, was also one of her instructors.

“I look up to my dad a lot,” she said. “He would be selfless and go out and help others. It motivated me to follow in his footsteps. I have a passion to help people. I enjoy helping and it motivated me to keep pushing.”

Rench said not many teens have the motivation to perform all of the duties required to obtain firefighting credentials.

“It showed her drive,” he said.

Chandler was among three people, and the only female, to graduate from Springfield’s Fire Academy. Students met once a week for nine months for classroom work and every other Saturday for hands-on practical training.

Springfield Fire Department Chief Joe Teixeira said the department has difficulty hiring, particularly females and minorities.

“We want to get the kids off the street and give them an idea of what firefighting is like,” Teixeira said.

Chandler plans to attend Lake Superior College in Duluth, Minn., to study fire science. She’s interested in a career in criminal justice.

Springfield is located just west of Battle Creek in Calhoun County.

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