Tammy Sheaks is Jackson Township Fire Department's Firefighter of the Year.

Tammy Sheaks is Jackson Township Fire Department's Firefighter of the Year.

Sheaks was the department's first female firefighter and the first female to be so honored.

"That was the whole goal before I came here," she said. "To be the first one."

Fire Chief Lloyd Sheets and Grove City Kiwanis Club secretary Bill Cady presented the award to Sheaks at a Jackson Township trustees meeting earlier this month.

Sheaks said that her daughter graduated from nursing school in the same week.

"It was a wonderful week," she said. "It feels like an honor."

She said she would not have achieved this point in her career if not for the good working relationships she has with her supervising officers, Grove City Building Department officials and Franklin County Board of Health representatives.

Sheaks has been with the fire department for 12 years.

She works as a fire inspector, but volunteers outside of her duty to teach children the importance of fire safety.

Fire Chief Lloyd Sheets said it is Sheaks' dedication to her job that earned her 2009 Firefighter of the Year.

"She actually has a passion for her job," the chief said. "Like one I've never seen before."

"She rarely sits still," said Lt. Bill Dolby, who nomiated her.

Capt. Merion Jacob has been with the township fire department 30 years.

He said he remembers when there were no women firefighters. He also remembers the first time he walked into the firehouse 12 years ago and saw Sheaks.

It was surprising then, he said.

"I can look back at that and laugh," he said. "We're proud to have her here."

Sheaks said she plans to stay with the department for a long time.

"I try to improve every day," she said. "I learn something new every day."

"She wants my job," Capt. Jacob said with a laugh.

She'll have mine when I leave," Dolby added.