By Josh Mitchell
Corinth Today News Editor
A Kossuth mother and daughter have responded to wrecks and house fires together.
Jessica Hodum and her mom Tonya serve on the Kossuth Volunteer Fire Department.
Kossuth Fire Chief Adron Hodum is Tonya’s husband and Jessica’s father and said the women do a great job for the department.
“They understood when they joined the department that there is no favoritism,” the chief said.
That is not a problem for Tonya and Jessica because they want to be treated like any other firefighter.
It appears Tonya is the first Level 2 certified female volunteer firefighter in the region, said Ricky Gibens, Alcorn County fire coordinator. The fact that they are a mother and daughter team on the same department is also notable.
“We are very proud of them,” Gibens said. “They’re both exceptional ladies. They put their heart in it.”
Tonya said, “We want to prove a point that other women” can be what they want if they put their mind to it. “We are beneath no man. We’re equal, and we always will be.”
When a firefighter is in full gear, one can’t tell if it is a man or a woman, Jessica noted.
The other members of the Kossuth Fire Department have been very supportive of the women.
“This is our family,” Tonya said.
Jessica is very proud of her mom reaching Level 2 certification and said it showed that she and other women can achieve that goal, too.
“Mom has always told me when I want to set my mind to something to do it just like she did,” Jessica said.
Both of the women also work for the school system in Kossuth. Tonya is a bus driver, and Jessica helps special needs children on another bus.
Jessica has been around the Kossuth Fire Department since she was 5 years old.
Now she and her mom want to keep progressing in the firefighting field. They both want to achieve HAZMAT certification, and Jessica wants to be Level 2 like her mom.
Tonya said she does not want to be a paid firefighter, saying it is payment enough for her when she can save a family photo from a house fire.
“It’s all right here,” Tonya said, pointing at her heart.
Men and women firefighters are different in certain ways. While men may be physically stronger women have a mothering instinct that can help children at the scene of a tragedy, Jessica said. Many times women are physically smaller which allows them to get into tighter spaces, they added.
It all comes down to a desire to serve the community they love, the women said.
“Our parents always told us that it is better to give than receive,” Jessica said.