57-Year-Old Woman Fights Stereotypes & Fires In Mamaroneck, N.Y.

MAMARONECK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A mother from Mamaroneck, New York has decided to reinvent herself in a field dominated by men, most of whom are a whole lot younger.

Suburban mom Robin Nesdale showed CBS2’s Lou Young some of the new equipment she’s learned to use to rescue other people, and perhaps, herself. At 57 years old,  she’s decided to play against type and become a volunteer firefighter.

“I thought it would be a challenging. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life,” she said.

Five months into her training, Nesdale is nearly ready to be certified to enter burning buildings as a member of the Town of Mamaroneck volunteer force. The mother of a college-age daughter calls it a way back from a rough divorce.

“I wanted to get everything back I had, which is self esteem, pride, everything else,” she said, adding she’s anxious to get to work. “I’ve been training for it, looking forward to it.”

Her training has been hard — the kind of upper body work that makes her able to stand shoulder-to-shoulder as the only female among 70 volunteers. She’s no pushover, Young reported.

“We don’t cut corners. There’s no cutting corners in this business,” Town of Mamaroneck Fire Chief Paul Tortorella said.

Can she handle it?

“Yeah, absolute. We’re going to make sure of that,” Tortorella added.

Nesdale has a small business in town, so she’s available for the fire calls. She says it makes her fell more connected to the community she’s lived in for 30 years. If you meet her on the job, though,she might be hard to recognize.

Does she think her gender of her age have been the biggest obstacle?

“Age. I think so,” she said.

No one has said anything, but she says she feels it. She’s fighting preconceptions on two fronts as well as fires.

Like many suburban fire departments, the Town of Mamaroneck has a core of professionals and a larger pool of volunteers. One of the career firefighters is also a woman, so Nesdale won’t be completely alone.

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