CHICAGO (CBS) — More than a dozen female fire service leaders were honored today at the Thompson Center.

One by one they were called out, 14 firefighters, all of them women. During this, women’s History Month, State Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka homered them for climbing the ranks.

“These women have not only broken through countless barriers, but they have risen to the highest ranks of their departments,” said Topinka.

Chicago didn’t hire its first female firefighter until nearly 30 years ago. Now, there are more than 1,300 of them.

Alicia McCoy heads up Fire Service Women of Illinois grew up in a firefighting family.

“My father supported taking on two women on to the fire department , he trained them and supported them in their aspirations,” she said.

Nationwide, there are more than 13,000 female fire professionals.

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