PHILADELPHIA — Hundreds of mourners, including firefighters from across the country, turned out on Saturday to honor Joyce Craig, Philadelphia’s first female firefighter killed in the line of duty.
“She was a true hero,” said Justin Davis, 17, a friend of Craig’s 16-year-old son who stood in a line that stretched for several blocks outside of the funeral home. “She risked her life to save another.”
Craig, 36, died on Tuesday battling a blaze in a basement in the West Oak Lane section of the city. Fire officials said she helped other firefighters save an elderly, frail woman located in another part of the home.
Sherita Ford, 34, a friend who knew her for 12 years, said Craig had joined the fire department because she enjoyed helping people.
“She was a great person, energetic,” Ford said. “She loved her job.”
In addition to her son, she left behind a 16-month-old daughter.
Craig, a decorated 11-year veteran of the city’s fire department, was one of just 58 women who worked in a department of more than 1,800.
Regina Scates, a firefighter who traveled from Bridgeport, Connecticut, said of Craig’s death: “It made me proud that there was another woman out there, and made me hopeful that more would follow in her footsteps.”