ANABELLE // Firefighter • Horse Lover • Snowboard Junkie
We are totally smitten with PNW cool gurl Anabelle Summerfield. Aspiring firefighter, horse lover, snowboard junkie, budding yogi, and recently turned 18! She is passionate about forests, saving lives, and giving life her all.
What made you want to become a firefighter? Where are you on your journey to becoming one?
There has been a firefighter in every generation of my family for years. I've always had a desire to help people and save lives but didn’t really have firefighting on my radar. A friend introduced me a program called Explorers, which gives teenagers a chance to learn about different jobs in the fire service, and I fell in love with it. I go to the fire station every week to train with the crew and show them what I’ve got, which will hopefully open more doors for me as I make decisions about my future.
How hard is it to become a female firefighter? Are there any hurdles you think you might need to overcome because you’re a woman?
It isn't supposed to be hard for a woman to be a firefighter, but sometimes it is. We constantly have to prove ourselves to the men around us. Sometimes I get looks of shock when I show up at the station, but mostly I hear words of encouragement and pride at my interest in the field.
Tell us something the average person wouldn't know about being a firefighter:
It is one of the most difficult jobs to get. You not only need the skills, but you need to fit into the culture of the station and have the emotional strength for the job. There are a lot of tests to pass before you can even apply for an interview. If you’re lucky enough to make it that far, you have to go through at least 3 rounds of meeting people and proving yourself. Next you go through several months of intense training in an academy. After you graduate you do a year as a probationary firefighter (which is basically shadowing a firefighter). Finally, if you make it through all of that you’re hired as an entry level firefighter. It’s a long road and many people quit before they get there.
Are you nervous about choosing this as your future career?
Yes, I've had a lot of doubts about pursuing this career. It is a ton of work and commitment, and of course, risking your life every day is no easy feat. The physical demands and the emotional drain are so intense that sometimes I just want to give up. But my crew never lets me quit—instead they motivate me to work harder.
What programs/schools are you thinking about attending?
I'm looking at a couple of different schools. Montana State University is my first choice, but I'm also looking at Northern Arizona University and University of Fairbanks because they have a university fire department, and students can get on-the-job training.
What's the thing you most want to do with your life?
The thing I want to do with my life is save people. It sounds funny but something about dragging an unconscious person out of a burning building just gives me chills. I don't want to do it to be a hero, I want to preserve life.
You have been around horses your entire life, what connects you to horses?
I have grown up around animals and have always had a natural connection to horses. I appreciate their intelligence and beautiful minds. I love how graceful and quirky they are each with their own personalities, just like humans.
You’re an equestrian. What’s that like?
I love riding horses and sharing that love with others. I refresh my skills every summer by giving lessons at a camp in Washington. Teaching others helps me go back to basics and focus on things I need to work on. I'm not very good at keeping a straight back, which is important for balance. But I'm good at steering with my legs instead of pulling on the horse’s mouth which is not comfortable for them.
Tell us about your love of snowboarding? Who's your favorite riding buddy?
I've been snowboarding with my dad since I was little, there is just something about cold wind on your face and a blanket of white covering everything to soothe your soul. The breezy chairlifts are quiet and vibrate slightly, and it just puts you in a relaxed state of mind. The world just shuts off for a while when you’re on the mountain shooting down the hill.
How fast and tricky are you? What kind of rider are you?
I'm not super tricky, big jumps and rails kind of scare me. I'd rather just go as fast as I can through dense trees, making big pow turns and spraying snow everywhere.
What do you like to do during your free time?
Recently I've started resting as much as I can in my free time and practicing yoga to clear my head and stretch my body.
What is cool about where you grew up?
I grew up mostly in Downtown Seattle which is an awesome place to be a kid. The people watching is amazing and you get a sense of the many possibilities that are out there to explore. It's such a beautiful city. I hope to move back there someday.
What is your biggest pet peeve?
My biggest pet peeve is when people chew with their mouths open.
Favorite dirty word and why?
Moist, because it makes people so uncomfortable.
What has been your biggest challenge in life so far?
My biggest challenge in life has been getting good grades. It's always been important to me to be a good student which can be stressful. I also have high expectations for myself and take my future seriously which is hopefully setting me up for success but can make me a bit crazy at times too.
What is the best compliment you’ve received?
The best compliment is anything that comes from a girl. Guys are nice and all but it's just sweet to hear a sister say you look nice today.
How would you describe yourself in one word?
Sassy. Every word is served with a side of sass.
Who is the most bad ass woman you know and how does she influence and inspire you?
Firefighter Shannon Norman. She kicks serious ass and is a no bullshit kind of woman. She orders men around like she's their mom, and knows how to do literally anything. She said I reminded her of herself, and she inspired me not to give up when things get tough.
What is your favorite Zenzee style?
My fav zenzee style is the open heel with the laces, black and white stripes. I get compliments on them all the time.
How do you like to wear your Zenzees?
I wear mine with cute ripped skinny jeans and a baggy t-shirt—that style gets double takes whenever I put it on.