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Joyce Craig-Lewis becomes first woman firefighter to die on job in Philadelphia

Joyce Craig-Lewis, the first woman firefighter killed on duty in Philadelphia, "went out fighting," said her brother.

By Frances Burns

PHILADELPHIA, Dec. 9 (UPI) -- Joyce Craig-Lewis, the first female firefighter killed on the job, was a "firefighter's firefighter," Fire Commissioner Derrick Sawyer said Tuesday.

Craig-Lewis, 36, an 11-year veteran, died early Tuesday morning. She became trapped in the basement of a burning row house in the city's West Oak Lane neighborhood

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"She was a firefighter's firefighter," Sawyer said at a news conference. "She had a strong work ethic. She prided herself in working at busy engine companies."

Sawyer said Craig-Lewis transferred to the most-dispatched engine unit in the city, in the troubled North Philadelphia area, earlier in her career.

Friends said Craig-Lewis wanted to be a firefighter from childhood. At the time of her death, she was one of only 150 women working in the Philadelphia department.

"She was just all-consumed by this job," her boyfriend, Jason Anderson, told the Philadelphia Inquirer. "That was her thing."

Her brother, Michael Craig, said she died as she lived.

"She went out fighting," he said. "There's nothing better than an honorable death. We all don't have an opportunity to die with so much honor."

Craig-Lewis is survived by a 16-year-old son and a 16-month-old daughter.

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