Home Town Heroes – Fighting Fires with Forcum

By: Kaycie Kile
WPJ Reporter

A hero is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or rare and noble qualities. The term is a familiar one we’ve all heard or alluded to once or twice in our lives. However, these days it’s more readily associated with nearly indestructible beings that spring from between pages and flicker across our screens.

Let’s be honest; most “heroes” that come to mind have serious advantages over the average earth dweller. Gifts like superhuman reflexes, sparkling charisma, supernatural abilities, and you can’t forget–great hair.

Don’t get me wrong; fictional heroes have their place, and I’ve got my fangirl favorites, but I’ve sidestepped the reality for too long. Sooner or later, we all require something more tangible. There are sincere and brave hands within my community consistently working and protecting us every day that I’ve neglected to appreciate. Ordinary folks who do extraordinary things, asking for little while risking a great deal with no expectation of recognition or reward. Flesh and blood heroes whose qualities and actions speak for themselves, much like those of Melissa “Mel” Forcum, active firewoman of the WPFD3 (Winn Parish Fire District 3).

Mel is a confident force of nature whose dedication and love for her role in and out of the firehouse may burn brighter than the piquant flames she extinguishes across the Parish for us.

Making small-town history by becoming the first-ever active firewoman in the department back in 2018 was just the beginning. Now four years and counting, this hard-working single mother of two has recently passed her Firefighter One exam, a significant accomplishment considering all the prerequisites and preparations necessary to attempt the test.

Forcum continues to blaze through every obstacle that comes her way with no intentions of slowing down or changing vocations. “The job is constantly evolving, and every call is different. You are continually learning. The moment you stop and realize you aren’t, that’s when you need to find yourself a new job,” says Forcum.

Fighting fires wasn’t a brand-new concept for Mel. Thanks to her father, Randy Forcum, one could almost call the passion hereditary. Mr. Forcum began the family’s legacy in 1985 when he joined the department in Neosho, Missouri; he went on to serve an impressive 30 years before his medical retirement in 2006. Though Mr. Forcum is no longer with his family, having lost his battle with cancer in 2016, he has taken up permanent residence in Mel’s heart and mind. According to Mel, he remains a continuous source of motivation for her and her children.

Considering that only five percent of the current active fire force in America is female, it makes Mel’s accomplishments even more exciting and worthy of recognition. But, it isn’t just the idea of a woman thriving in a long-stereotyped career path that makes Mel so newsworthy—it’s her unmistakable character. WPFD3’s very own Fire Chief, Harry Foster, has described her as “-a valuable asset to the fire force, someone who continues to step up and fill any need that forms within our unit.”

Mr. Foster would also have the citizens of Winn Parish know that there is a constant need for capable and brave individuals like Forcum and her comrades. “From volunteer, part-time, and even full time, we could use all the able and willing hands we can get to better serve and protect this parish.”

It’s as easy as riding down to the station and filling out an application! Remember to thank your civil servants for their daily sacrifice and actions on our behalf. Our community couldn’t be what it is today without people like Mel and all first responder’s consistent efforts.

Know a “Hometown Hero?” Email us at wpj@winnparishjournal.com

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