East Hanover Township Swears in its First Female Firefighter

 

 

By Steve Sears

The East Hanover Volunteer Fire Department’s first female firefighter, Jordyn Hadley, recalls her first experience of battling a house fire.

“Me and another fellow firefighter were assigned to the roof,” Jordyn says. “We had to climb up the ladder and cut a hole in the roof in order to let air out – that’s what’s called venting the roof. I can remember smelling the smoke, and everything is going on around you. You’re seeing the lights, you’re hearing everyone yelling about what to do, and in that moment, I realized, ‘This is real, this isn’t the academy.’ I have to say it’s an adrenaline rush. You get excited, you’re here to help people.”

That last sentence sums it up. Apples rarely fall far from their trees, and this is certainly true with regard to the East Hanover Volunteer Fire Department and the Hadley family.

Long time firefighter and current Lieutenant, Ken Hadley Sr., has seen his son, Ken Jr., join the department, and now his daughter, 24-year-old Jordyn, has joined. She was officially sworn in during a ceremony at a town meeting on May 2, 2022.

“Growing up, I’ve always been around firefighters,” Jordyn says. “I was always at the firehouse when I was younger, and a lot of the past chiefs would have us participate in the parades, so I used to ride in the truck with my dad, or they would always do family events where we’d have picnics and have softball games, and we’d play against a different department. It was always something that was like a second family.” Also when she was younger, she  would hear stories abut her dad from others in town, and there was a feeling of pride. “Just the joy on people’s faces of hearing how someone you know is a first responder, that was so cool. Hearing, ‘Your dad’s a Lieutenant?’ or anything of that nature was very inspirational.”

Jordyn doesn’t recall what sparked her desire to be a firefighter. The elder Hadley never pushed or persuaded his daughter, but she approached him with the notion of joining. “I remember going up to him and saying, ‘I want to join the fire department.’ And he said, ‘You do whatever makes you happy. As long as you’re satisfied with it, go for it.’”

Jordyn joined at age 18 and fell in love with it. She had to do a required probationary period, which at the time collided with her college years and non-stop softball playing, the latter in the spring, summer, and fall. Hadley had a sports background in both softball and swimming at Hanover Park High School, and also from age 18 to 20 played for the New Jersey Phoenix hockey team. She also attended County College of Morris, where she played softball for a year before transferring to Rutgers University and majored in Criminal Justice. It was that very involved time period, and after that a bout with lupus which felled her for another year, that prevented her from attending the Morris County Public Safety Training Academy. “There was a lot of accomplishments and setbacks that led me to get sent to the academy later on,” she says.

Jordyn eventually did attend the academy and, after COVID-19 pushed back her swearing in ceremony, the special May evening arrived when Ken Hadley presented his daughter with her badge, which was his initial firefighter badge from when he joined, welcoming her to her official township role as a firefighter.

“To me, being the first female firefighter means a lot of things,” Jordyn says. “It’s definitely a great feeling, especially because I want to represent all females out there, and show them that it doesn’t matter whether you’re a boy or girl, it doesn’t matter your gender, you do what you want to do.” And she lauds her fellow firefighters. “When joining East Hanover (Volunteer Fire Department), they took me in, and they don’t treat me any differently. They treat me like one of the guys, that I’m part of the family. I don’t get any special treatment, and they’re all respectful. In fact, they’ve always been respectful, and even throughout my time at the academy. Whatever I needed, they helped me with.”

And Jordyn, like her dad and brother, is helping her community. “Knowing that I could do more for my community and help others, and trying to help them in any way possible, makes me feel good,” she says. “That’s all I wanted to do.”

 

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