At 18, Daza Talas is not only the youngest person to graduate from the Carson City Fire Department's volunteer firefighter-training academy, she's also the only female so far to meet the rigorous physical requirements this year.
"I think more ladies would get involved if it wasn't so physically demanding," she said Thursday.
Talas had to haul a 50-pound bundle of hose up three stories in 15 seconds. First, she went over the time limit by 2 seconds. After steady practice, she did it in 13 seconds.
She's excited to join the volunteers of Warren Engine Company.
"(Volunteers) are more happy - they're more friendly," she said. "They're here because they want to be, not because they have to be."
After 11Ú2 years with Explorer Post 1863, Talas decided to go through the firefighter academy as her Carson High senior project. Students are required to spend 15 hours working on their projects; Talas spent 168 on hers.
"The academy has been my life for the last three months," she said.
One reason she decided to pursue firefighting was a 2000 motorcycle accident. She was on the back of her dad's bike during a family trip to the In-N-Out Burger in Auburn when traffic on Highway 80 came to a sudden stop. The bike went down. Daza Talas blacked out and awoke on the pavement.
"It was all silent. I was like, 'What happened? Was that real? Did that really happen?'"
Her dad, Dennis, was hospitalized with a punctured lung and road rash. Talas' right foot had scraped along the pavement - wearing her shoe through to her skin.
Before the accident Talas played in the high school band and danced tap, jazz, clog and ballet. After the accident, things changed.
"That was an interesting day," she said with a shrug.
Although working as a firefighter pays a decent wage, Talas said that wasn't a factor for her.
"Everybody says, 'Oh, they make a lot of money,' but I don't really care," she said. "I want to do something because I want to do it. If it happens to make good money, than yea for me, and if it doesn't, there's a way."
Talas was born at Carson-Tahoe Hospital and has lived in the same house near Empire Elementary School her whole life. She has no plans to leave.
"I like it here. I like that it's big -but not too big. It's small, but not really, really small. I like how you can drive down the street here and be like, 'I know that person and I know that person and I know that person.'"
Although her given name is Taca (pronounced "Tasa"), which means "summer" in the language of her ancestors, Talas started using "Daza" as soon as she could write.
Part Hopi, part Paiute and part Shoshone, Talas is registered with a tribe in Duckwater, south of Ely.
When she's not learning how to save lives and fight fires, she likes to ride her '91 Harley-Davidson softtail. The license plate reads "DAZA."
Thursday, she was recognized for her achievements at the annual Warren Engine Company dinner.
Contact Karl Horeis at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1219.