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Dearborn Heights woman is first Arab-American, second female firefighter to join Lincoln Park Fire Department

posted on: Aug 22, 2015

Mona Markabani remembers exactly when she realized she would become a firefighter: the moment she discovered women firefighters existed.

She was 7 years old, a self-described tomboy, sitting in the back row of a morning assembly at her Dearborn elementary school, when a group of firefighters filed in to talk to the students about fire safety.

It was nothing too special until, beneath all the gear, one of those firefighters turned out to be a woman.

“When she said she was a firefighter, too, I couldn’t believe it,” said the 24-year-old Markabani, who graduated from Schoolcraft College’s fire academy in the fall.

“All the books I read in school were firemen. I didn’t even know it was possible. It was literally a switch in my head saying: I’m doing that. I was always a tomboy and if the boys could do it, I could do it.”

Earlier this month, Markabani became the Lincoln Park’s 18th and final hire for the Fire Department to be fully staffed. Her starting salary is $38,234.

She was sworn in at the city’s Public Safety Commission meeting July 16. She is the second woman firefighter in the history of the department and the first Arab-American firefighter the city has had, according to Fire Chief Al Dyer, who led the hiring process with two senior officers.

He said Markabani, who studied to be a paramedic at Henry Ford Community College and has worked at HealthLink for just over a year, scored the highest out of several candidates in a standardized interview scoring system.

Markabani reports to Lt. Mike Prinz, one of the senior officers who brought her on board. He previously worked under the department’s first and only other woman firefighter, Angela Dayfield, who retired in 2012 as a fire inspector after a 25-year career.

Prinz said Dayfield mentored him in the department and he appreciated the dynamic and different perspective of a female firefighter. He said he’s glad to see another woman join the department and he believes Markabani will transition easily.