Meet the New Jersey woman blazing a trail for female firefighters

HOBOKEN, New Jersey -- As we celebrate Women's History Month, we want to introduce you to the first female Battalion Chief of the Hoboken Fire Department.

"My competitive streak said if she could do it, then I'm going to do it," said Battalion Chief Audra Carter, Hoboken Fire Department.

Carter never dreamed of becoming a firefighter.

"A friend of mine was taking the test. It was more of a dare," she said.

But that fearlessness opened doors for her, allowing her to make history as the first female battalion chief in the Hoboken Fire Department last year.

"This was my goal," she said. "So I am happy I made it."

Carter is no stranger to being called a trailblazer.

In 2002, she and another female firefighter became the first women to join the department in its 171-year-old history.

"It might have been a little nerve-wracking," she said.

Carter spent about nine years as a firefighter before becoming captain in 2011.

"I was born and raised in Hoboken," she said.

She's fighting for a community that helped shape the woman she is today.

Rebuilding after Hurricane Sandy is one of Carter's most memorable moments.

"It was a week of no power in town," she said.

At just 5 feet 4 inches tall, it was a weight she proved more than capable of carrying.

"In promoting her to battalion chief, I think it sends a strong message that this is a profession that is open to everybody," Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla said.

Of the 118 firefighters in the department, three are women.

According to the latest statistics by the National Fire Protection Agency, just 4% of career firefighters are women.

Programs like Phoenix Firecamp aims to change that, drawing teenagers from all across the region to Oneida County, New York for a week of hands-on training.

"There are so few female role models that are hard and difficult for young women to see themselves in that role," said Rebecca Zimmerman, Director, Phoenix Firecamp.

While firefighting may not have been the dream for Carter, her role certainly serves as an inspiration to other young ladies looking to make this their dream.

"If you really want to do it do it," Carter said.