DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – A young woman made Dallas history in 1977 becoming the first female firefighter. This week, Sherrie Wilson will retire after more than three decades of service.

“It’s just been fun. It’s just been living the dream for me,” Wilson said.

Sherrie Wilson is hanging up her hat and retiring. It wasn’t easy.  “It was a terrible time making the decision. ‘Took me two years,” Wilson said.

But, it was just time.  “You know as you get older you need your rest,” Wilson said with a laugh

Wilson has spent nearly 35 years with Dallas Fire Rescue.  She started as a trailblazer, becoming the first female firefighter and then two years later, the first female paramedic in Dallas.

“I was just strong,” Wilson said.

60 women had failed before her.  What made her think she could do it?  “A man told me I couldn’t,” Wilson said with a laugh.

She was 19 years old, a former cheerleader and basketball player.  “The paramedic was what I really wanted.
And it’s what I really loved. And it’s what really juiced me was saving lives, ripping people from the jaws of death,” Wilson said.

At times, she would have liked to have been rescued herself, when the male firefighters went too far.  There was the time they tied her to a tree, threw her lunch on the ground next to her and then turned on the sprinkler. It was funny until they got a fire call and left her there.

They pasted her face on all of the Three Stooges and posted it on something the firefighters called a “Poop Sheet.”

Wilson said some of what they did was fun. Some of it was over the line.  “It is what it is. You just live with it. Just keep going. Keep doing the job,” Wilson said.

She also learned to dish it back.  “I learned to play their game pretty well,” Wilson said.

She printed a “Poop Sheet” of her own which landed her in some hot water. Though she was careful not to name any names, someone in the department sued her over it.  She won the case but not before spending $20,000 on a defense attorney.

Along the way, she married and raised a family.  “It was like God packed me and packaged me just for that job,” Wilson said.

She’s even used her life saving know how for missions work in India, Mexico, and Russia.  “I’m still a rescuer. Always will be a rescuer but it’s time to move on,” Wilson said.

She still keeps her firefighting gear hand, just in case she’s needed.

Once she retires, Wilson will focus more of her energies at Emergency Management Resources where she’s already a Clinical Manager.  The company teaches the latest life saving skills to the public and business sectors.