CDCR Time Capsule

1989: First full‑time women firefighters hired in department

Two women in uniform stand beside a truck with the words Folsom State Prison Fire Dept.
Folsom State Prison firefighters Kathy Williams, left, and Marianne Breeland were the first two female firefighters in the department.

(Editor’s note: Correction News published the following story in the May 1989 edition. The Editor for the newsletter was Christine May while the Managing Editor was Michael Van Winkle)

Folsom recently hired the department’s first full-time women firefighters. Marianne Breeland and Kathy Williams, both former correctional officers, transferred to the firefighter classification.

Folsom Fire Chief Gary Sheppard said “both women are doing a great job. I am impressed by their good attitudes.”

Breeland began her career with the department in 1986. After graduation from the Training Academy in Galt, she was assigned to Folsom Prison. She worked as a part-time firefighter there until her full-time appointment. As a teenager, Breeland was selected as a member of the U.S. Olympic ski team.

Williams also started with the department in 1986. Her first appointment as a correctional officer was to San Quentin. Although she had no prior firefighting experience, she impressed Chief Sheppard with her attitude and was selected for the position.

Breeland and Williams also will receive emergency medical technician (EMT) training.