For the First Time in 140 Years, Women Serve as Members of the University of Notre Dame Fire Department

Founded in 1879, the Univerity of Notre Dame Fire Department is the first and oldest University fire department in the nation. Now, for the first time in this long history, there are women firefighters: Christi Shibata and Michelle Woolverton.


Shibata is a graduate of Clay Fire Academy. She previously worked as a physical therapist assistant and personal trainer in Petoskey, Michigan. She is the sister of Notre Dame Police Chief Keri Kei Shibata.

Woolverton is a native of South Bend, Indiana. She previously worked in Building Services at Notre Dame, where she served as a supervisor. Woolverton also is a graduate of Clay Fire Academy.


Shibata and Woolverton perform the same duties as all firefighters. That includes driving the engine and operating the engine pump. Both are certified emergency medical technicians as well.

As newly sworn members of the fire service, Shibata and Woolverton join a small but growing number of women firefighters nationwide. According to the National Fire Protection Association, women represent about 7 percent of all firefighters.

Filed Under: Milestones


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