LAFD academy training more female recruits

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The latest class of 48 recruits at the Los Angeles Fire Department includes five women, the highest number in recent history. (KABC)

The Los Angeles Fire Department is adding more women to its ranks, graduating five in its latest academy class of 48 recruits.

That's the highest number for the department in recent years.

And each one of those new recruits is pursuing a big dream.

Samantha Ralston is following her family's calling. Her grandfather was a firefighter, and her dad is one too, so she says it only made sense for her.

"I told him (my grandfather) I'm going to work for LA City and he told me no, it's too hard for girls. When someone tells me I can't do anything I take it as a challenge," Ralston said.

Her grandfather died a year ago this week, on the day of her graduation. Now she'll wear his badge number, and it will be pinned on her during the ceremony by her grandmother.

Chelsey Grigsby co-owns a cross-fit gym. In that capacity, she helps to transform lives. Now she wants to literally save them.

"I get to help people change their lives through fitness - teaching them to live a healthy life," Grigsby said. "And this takes it to a new level in being able to actually save their lives."

The first women firefighters joined LAFD in 1983, according to the department. The department has women in a range of positions at all levels, from firefighter, paramedic and diver to captain, battalion chief and deputy chief.

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