(WSVN) - A passion for protecting others runs in the family for one grandfather and his granddaughter. It all started 52 years ago with a history-making first in Broward County. Karen Hensel has today’s 7 Spotlight.
Bobby Glenn is a retired first responder, and the word “first” is a key part of this 81-year-old’s résumé.
Bobby Glenn, retired firefighter: “They call me a trailblazer. What I was looking for was a job so I could feed my wife and kids.”
Back in 1970, Bobby started with the Fort Lauderdale Fire Department, becoming the first Black firefighter hired in all of Broward County.
Bobby Glenn: “They didn’t have any Blacks and didn’t have any females on the department.”
Times have changed.
Jasmine Lawson, firefighter-paramedic: “Does this look any different than the truck you were on back in the ’70s?”
Bobby Glenn: “Oh, yeah, a little bit.”
Jasmine Lawson: “A little bit?”
Bobby Glenn: “Yeah. A lot bit.”
Lauderhill Firefighter-Paramedic Jasmine Lawson is Bobby’s granddaughter.
Jasmine Lawson: “Since middle school, I was like, ‘Yep, I want to be a firefighter.'”
Years after serving as her inspiration, Bobby was there as Jasmine took her first steps into a profession he loves.
Jasmine Lawson: “When I graduated from my fire academy, he handed over my medal.”
Bobby not only blazed the trail for his granddaughter. Early on, he recruited other minorities to join the fire department.
Bobby Glenn: “They hired 19 of them at one time, and I just want to think that that was one of the most memorable times of my fire service.”
Despite recruiting efforts, the country’s firefighters are still predominantly white men, but the ranks are significantly more diverse than when Bobby Glenn started more than half a century ago.
Jasmine Lawson: “He endured a lot of hazing.”
Bobby Glenn: “It was kind of an uphill grind. It wasn’t an easy task at that time.”
Not easy, but Bobby succeeded.
After 22 years, he retired as a Fort Lauderdale lieutenant in 1992.
As for Jasmine, this June she will mark two years with Lauderhill Fire Rescue.
Jasmine Lawson: “I feel like my granddad paved the way for me to be here, and I’m now working in a city where he lives in.”
That’s right: her fire station serves the area where her grandparents live.
Bobby Glenn: “That’s kind of scary. (laughs) No, I’m just kidding on that.”
Jasmine Lawson: “For his birthday, I gave him a station tour. He says the only thing that didn’t change is the camaraderie, the brotherhood and just the family.”
Bobby Glenn: “I felt real good about it, that she would she would want to follow in my footsteps. She’ll move right on up on the ladder; she’s a go-getter. I’m really, really proud of her.”
A proud grandfather, and now, a proud aunt.
Jasmine sent us a picture, writing, “My youngest nephew Jackson, who actually wants to be like me! A firefighter.”
Karen Hensel, 7News.
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