NAVAL STATION GUANTANAMO BAY, CUBA
Story by Petty Officer 2nd Class Samantha Oblander
AFN Guantanamo Bay
GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba (NNS) -- When the Naval Station Guantanamo Bay (GTMO) Fire and Emergency Services was officially established in 1903, the department was staffed completely by military members serving on base. It wasn’t until 1994, that the department integrated with the Jamaican civilians on base. Even with this new inclusion, it wasn’t until 2007, when Claudine Miller joined, that the Fire Department had women serving on its roster.
The Fire Department recently reached another milestone when they promoted firefighter Kayona Davids to be the department’s first woman fire captain. When talking about her past, Captain Davids admits that she always knew she was destined to work in public service.
“Growing up my family members, they were like teachers,” said Davids. “I’m from a family of firefighters […] and police. It’s always been where they serve and help people. Growing up, I’ve always admired them and said ‘I want to do that.’”
Despite facing obstacles, Davids never lost sight of her goal and when offered the chance to go after her dream, she jumped at the opportunity.
“I saw an ad in The Gleaner for a firefighter and I was like, yes! That’s the career I’ve always wanted!” said Davids. “In December 2012, out of the blue they called me and I was like, ‘Huh? You still remember me?’ and I went, ‘Yes, yes, yes! I’m still interested!’ They said come in and they started processing. By January, I was in GTMO.”
It’s been seven years since becoming a firefighter and from day one, despite the challenges she faced, Davids seemed to be predisposed to becoming captain. Davids quickly distinguished herself by diving headfirst into her work and training, learning everything she possibly could about the job.
Davids attributes her success to the passion and pride she has for her job. Through studying, researching and mastering her craft, she was able to apply her knowledge to real-world scenarios. This made her stand out among her peers who began referring to her as captain before she even considered that milestone.
From search and rescue to combating fires and emergency medical response, the Fire Department provides the base with a wide range of services, and because of this, Davids likens her job to being a jack of all trades and explains what she loves most about it.
“It keeps me on my toes,” said Davids. “I’m ever learning. I get to help people and serve people. It gives me fulfillment. I actually enjoy and take pride in what I do. I wouldn’t exchange it for nothing. I really love it.” With the multitude of different environments and scenarios that she could encounter when responding to calls, Davids is confident in her abilities as a firefighter saying, “When the alarm sounds, I’m ready. I’ve got this,” added Davids.
As the first woman fire captain at Naval Station Guantanamo Bay Fire and Emergency Services, Davids explains how this experience has shaped her life and expectations.
“I take pride and joy in it,” Davids said. “I am happy, very happy. Not that my male coworkers are not good, but I’m like, I got this too, I got your back. We can work together. It’s exciting. For the seven years, seven months, and four days that I’ve been here, I can’t say that there’s a day that I’m like ok, this is it. I’m going home. Because the environment, the work, plus the support that you get from each other; although you’re away from your real family you’re still happy and think of the department as a second family. Being the first female and actually motivating other females to become a captain as well, because we can do it. It’s the same job. We have the same potential and we are just as good.”
Everyone has their strengths and Davids knows exactly what she thinks one of her best qualities is and what she brings to the table as a fire captain.
“I’m mentally strong, self-motivated,” said Davids. “What I love most about myself is I’m a person of integrity. I won’t compromise. That’s what I love about myself: I won’t compromise when it comes to integrity.”
Davids hopes to continue to motivate and inspire other women firefighters by demonstrating her high work ethic. When Davids first arrived back in 2013, there was only one woman firefighter working at the department but today, the department has nine women in its service. For now, Davids feels like she’s exactly where she needs to be and offers her own piece of advice.
“Be strong,” said Davids. “Be confident. Do you[r] best. […] We’re all here in this space for different reasons. I am here and I believe that I am fulfilling the destiny that I came here to Guantanamo Bay for. My fellow female captains, future female captains, they’re here for a reason too, so just do the best that you can. Pursue what you enjoy, help resolve what you see needs fixing and do your part. Impact the world with your unique gifts. Everybody has unique gifts.”