Captain Calandra "Shay" Mason

Age: 37

Experience: Captain, Crew Leader, Training Officer

Hometown: Gary, Ind.

Education: Columbia College Fire Science & Psychology

Family: Married to a soldier; son, John, 17; daughter; Courtney, 11

Q: What inspired you to become a firefighter?

A: My mom inspired me because she told me I can do whatever I put my mind to. She taught me to never give up and work hard.

Q:What is most challenging about your job and why?

A: The greatest challenge for me is being a female. Some people believe the physical part of the job makes it hard for a female. It just means I have to work a little harder because I have to prove I can do it.

Q: What is a memorable moment and why?

A: My most memorable moment is when I had a roof collapse on me. I realized that no matter how small the department is, these things can still happen. That is why we must train and be prepared for anything.

More about: Mason was formerly a volunteer in the U.S. Marine Corps