Women in the Fire Service, Inc.
Bulletin Board/Guestbook Archives
February - June 2002


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 Posted 6/29/02 xxxxx Reply to: or
  Hi, my name is Gena and I am interested in becoming a firefighter. I live in Phoenix, AZ and I am a very good student academically and athletic wise and want to go to college for a bachelors degree, but most at colleges one cannot major in Fire Science. I just need some advice to get my education and career started on the right path. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
 Posted 6/27/02 xxxxx Reply to: or

My department is purchasing dress uniforms, and I was wondering about the tie, and also the hat. Is the bus driver style hat the same type of hat I am supposed to wear, or is there a style that is more flattering for a female? I have had no luck locating pictures on the web or in catalogs.

I am also wondering why on the female slacks and skirt there are no pockets, or belt loops. Where am I supposed to carry my I.D., pager, etc? I know this is a minor irritation, but it does bother me. If anyone has any info, please let me know.


Billie Edwards
Training Chief
March Fire Department
March ARB, California

Posted 6/27/02 xxxxx Reply to:
  My husband and I (both firefighter/medics) both are interested in doing a ride-along with San Francisco FD while my husband goes through the hiring process. If someone out there could set us up with a ride-along, I would greatly appreciate it! (If you happened to be at the Camp Blaze in Washington, we have maybe already met!) I would ALSO greatly appreciate any FF/PMs that work there to write me and give me the straight"scoop" on how medics are treated in the SFFD... I've heard rumors.... Thanks!!
 Posted 6/25/02 xxxxx Reply to:

Hi everyone, I am a volunteer firefighter in New Mexico, and all area FD's are being dispatched to the Missionary Ridge fire. (at 70,000 acres, the fastest growing fire in the US, as well as the #1 priority in the nation right now).

Right now, we are taking a day and night shift for 12 hours, but are ending up staying there for several days. So far, there have been no fatalities, but several injuries, and more than once, after the fire broke a fireline,
we have droppped hoses and run for our lives. We would appreciate prayers right now, as the fire is supposed to last 6 weeks.


 Posted 6/13/02 xxxxx Reply to: or

I am a member (one of two "tool girls") on an all female extrication team that will compete for the FIRST time this September in Brighton NY. I have been trying to find out if there have ever been any other teams comprised of only women that have competed nationally or locally as an extrication team. If anyone has any info on this I would greatly appreciate it. Thanks!

Tanya Newton
Clinton EMS and Rescue - EMT and Rescue Associate
Pattenburg Volunteer Fire Company - Active Fire Fighter/Engineer

 Posted 6/13/02 xxxxx Reply to:

Hi! My question is regarding earrings. I wear several small hoops that break-away with very little pressure and therefore people's concern about them getting ripped out of my head is moot. The thing the guys tell me now is that my earrings will transfer heat really dramatically in a fire. If I have my shroud and hood on, why would this be any worse than any other piece of jewelry worn into a fire (e.g., necklaces, rings, etc.)? I am totally willing to take them out if I could get some real info on this. In the meantime, until an SOG/SOP addresses the topic, they are in my ears. Please write to me at . Thanks!

Dele Peterson
Tracy Fire Department (California)

  Posted 6/11/02 xxxxx Reply to:

I am a Captain in the training division of the Utica (NY) Fire Department, we have recently hired another female firefighter. I am looking for information on a safe way for this firefighter to wear her shoulder length hair. All of our other previous female hires have worn their hair short, so this was never a concern in the past. Specificly, the department has concerns regarding SCBA facepiece straps, helmit fit, and the possibility that an assailant may attempt to use a pony tail as a grab point.

Any information regarding safe practices and long hair would be great appreciated. I may be contacted at . Thank-you.

  Posted 6/11/02 xxxxx Reply to:

I would like to speak to other women firefighters online. My AOL screenname is seldenfirechick and my email address is .

Firefighter Vickie Theobald
Selden Fire Department
Selden, New York

 Posted 6/5/02 xxxxx Reply to: or

Maternity Issue

I am a firefighter in Dallas, Texas and am expecting. I have tried to find some research on if inhaled toxins from fire could be passed through breast milk. I found one website that says it may be or could be. I was wondering if anyone knows if there is any true research that has been done on this topic.


Tami, Dallas Fire Rescue

  Reply posted 6/13/02

Hi Tami, I don't have the answer this time, but some toxins do pass in milk or other body fluids (blood, ...).

In any case, you can (and must) protect your lungs by the SCBA respirator (during fire) or a filtering respirator (after the fire, in the burned areas).

Anita L

  Posted 5/28/02 xxxxx Reply to: or

I work in a rural, "volunteer", fire department in Washington State. We get paid for the hours we put in. There are 50-60 volunteers total, and about 12 are women. We have a District Chief who is paid. I'm a Captain, and my Battalion Chief and I were the only female officers in our district.

Last month, my Battalion Chief was slapped with a disciplinary action by the District Chief, as letters from disgruntled male volunteers have been sent to him. They state she is too "emotional" on scene, and belittles others. In fact, she often does have to get in their faces, or they will try to ignore her.

They complain that she is "unsafe" on scenes, when I know that they are really angry because she expects them to be safe. This has all resulted in a very ugly situation in our district, with everyone polarizing and taking sides. She has since been terminated, leaving me as the only female officer. Please give us any advice, information, etc. that you think might be helpful. Thanks.

 Posted 5/21/02 xxxxx Reply to:

To Whom it May Concern:

"Life Moments" is a new hour-long syndicated daytime television show that will begin airing on NBC weekdays in September 2002. Produced by Pie Town Productions in association with Paramount Domestic Television, each episode of "Life Moments" will celebrate real women as they face incredible, empowering moments in their lives. Pie Town Productions produced the highly-acclaimed "A Baby Story" and will bring the same level of sensitivity and integrity to "Life Moments."

"Life Moments" will recognize ordinary women who who have overcome extraordinary circumstances and now, are about to experience the moment or event that marks the turning point in their journey. We want to capture that moment as well as tell the story of how each woman got to where she is today. It's essential that the participants have an upcoming event, which is the culmination of her efforts or is a major turning point in her life.

"Life Moments" offers the rare opportunity to profile exceptional women. In the process, they will inspire others and provide much needed encouragement. The participants will tell their own story in their own words.

I am looking for stories of women who are in the fire fighting

Again, these women must have an upcoming event that reflects the end of one chapter in her life and the beginning of a new one. That event might be a graduation, an award, first day on the job, getting married, or the founding of an organization or cause -- any true moment or activity that reflects the culmination of the woman's determination and efforts.

Our crews are minimal, consisting of a director, cameraman and soundperson. Typically, we will shoot one to two days, depending on the story. As usual, we are under a fairly tight time deadline and appreciate your getting back to me at your earliest convenience.

If you know of a woman or women who are about to experience a "Life Moment," this is a great way to honor her achievement. Please do not hesitate to contact me via e-mail or call me at 818/255-9325.

Best regards,

Chris Werber
Segment Producer

 Posted 5/9/02 xxxxx Reply to: or

Pregnancy Issue

I am a career firefighter on a department with no maternity policy/leave or pregnancy policy in place. I have attempted to get one in place for several years, and have been told by Union President as well as the Union Attorney that we should not have a poicy in our contract. Interesting eh? The Police Department has had a policy in place for many years (parity?).

One of our female firefighters was pregnant and has been forced to go on "disability". The department refused a light-duty position for her, and basically did nothing to accomodate her pregnancy. She was forced to use up her vacation and sick time to supplement the disability pay. Unfortunately, when those ran out, she went below 80% of her pay, which caused her to lose benefits such as medic pay, longevity, etc.

Now, I find that I am pregnant and do not know what to do. Is anyone aware of any new laws, etc. that would prevent me from losing additional benefits? I cannot afford to go below 80% of my regular pay, and am definitely not disabled (however, I don't want to fight fire during my pregnancy). Can anyone give me help on this?

 Posted 5/9/02 xxxxx Reply to:


I just wanted to say congratulations to Brenda Berkman on her promotion to Captain in FDNY as reported in the Daily News. Keep up the good work as role model for girls and women not only in New York but all across the country.

Mary Regan
Westfield Fire Department

 Posted 5/8/02 xxxxx Reply to: or

hello ladies.

i'm a career firefighter/paramedic in texas. if you have any question or would like to talk to me about anything, feel free to e-mail me. never give up and be careful out there.


 Posted 5/7/02 xxxxx Reply to: or

Is there anyone going to be taking the Consortium in Montana in June? If so, could you let me know how you're doing with the progress in training?


Karen E Sommerville
 Posted 4/30/02 xxxxx Reply to: or
  Hello, I love the site that you have hear. I have been looking all over for sites on firefighting for woman and for junior. My name is Trisha and I am one of 2 Lady JUNIOR firefighters at my Volunteer Co. I am 15 years old and plan to be apart of the Kittanning Twp. Fire Dept. for as long as I am around. I am pleased to say that our Very Small Co. in a very small town has 6 total Lady Firefighters. I have looked many times on the internet for sites on women firefighters and today I was very glad to find one! I haven't been a firefighter long, going only to one call so far, but the rush as most of you would know is neat. I hope that my writting and showing a few people that there are women firefighters, that can be just as good as the men are out there and running strong!
 Posted 4/30/02 xxxxx Reply to: or

My fire department is establishing a pregnancy policy after we have our first pregnant fire fighter. This is kind of like shutting the gate after the cows are out.We are a paid on call - 25 member department. Obviously we are behind the 8 ball already and will have to act quickly.

We are thinking the best thing for mother & unborn child is light or non-hazard duty for the duration of the pregnancy. However the pregnant fire fighter says we can not make her take light or non-hazard duty. What am I missing? This seams like the safest thing for the mother, unborn child, other fire fighters and the district.

Please help - any input or you department policy would be greatly appreciated .


Byron Willems
Fire Board member
Craig Fire Rescue
 Posted 4/30/02 xxxxx Reply to: or

I represent a woman who was denied a job as a firefighter because she was asked unlawful questions during her interview and did not get the job based on the interview. But for the interview, she was the number one candidate. The Fire Department acknowledged the error but told my client that they were not going to ask the new hire male to leave because the other men would be unhappy and this would have made it more difficult for my client to succeed at work. (Does this sound like more discrimination, or what.)

I am looking for resources and contacts with others who have challenged Fire Departments for sex discrimination in hiring. Thank you for any assistance you can give.

Claire Cordon 206/442-1575.

Posted 4/27/02 xxxxx Reply to: or
  Hi, my name is Shannon. I am a 25-year old female in the pursuit of my lifelong dream as a fire fighter. I am from Ontario, Canada, by the way. Anyway, I have a question, and I am in desperate need of some help and any kind of answers I can get. Right now I am in the process of applying to one of the major fire departments in my province and it looks as though I am going to have some trouble passing the physical requirements. I wear glasses: to be more specific, I have an astigmatism. So in my left eye my vision is 20/50 and in my right it is 20/30 uncorrected.

So my question is leading up to Laser Eye Surgery... has anyone had it? Can somebody help me or give some advice? This is the only career that I want to do for the rest of my life, and I don't want it my passion to be "extinguished." The standards for this particular department is 20/30 in each eye uncorrected. I obviously don't want to ruin my vision furthermore, but I hear so many good things about LASIK. As far as the rest of the requirements, I have never been so ready in my life!!!! This is the only thing in my way, so if anybody out has some experience or has heard anything I would really appreciate hearing from you. Thank you for taking the time to read this.

Shannon Baxter
Posted 4/23/02 xxxxx Reply to: or

Congrats to Chief Rosemary Cloud on her appointment.

Patrick Washington, FF/CT
Chesterfield Fire Dept., Chesterfield County, Va.

 Posted 4/3/02 xxxxx Reply to: or

 I am a sixteen year old, male, junior at Healdsburg High School in California, I am a explorer at the fire department in the town, we only have a one female firefighter, although only a fifty member volunteer department. I really enjoyed looking at your website, it provides a lot of much needed information about the members of the opposite sex that I will hopefully be encountering more and more in my pursuit of a career in the fire service. We had a explorer chief who was a female, she dropped out because someone told her she wouldn't be hired becasue of her gender. She believed them, this was a major hit for me and the department. I hope your site continues to recieve the same enthusiastic young people as myself.

Thank you,

John Selfridge
Captain, Fire Explorer

 Posted 3/30/02 xxxxx Reply to:
  I am a career firefighter with an urban department. I am looking for some feedback from other women firefighters. A local charity is sponsoring a "Firemen's Fashion" show with the proceeds going to youth groups. They are advertising this as "all models and participants are firefighters." Myself and 3 other women agreed to participate and have now found out that the majority of the other females in the show are not firefighters.

I had hoped this would be an opportunity to show the community that women can be firefighters and "run with the big dogs" as well as have a feminine side. There was no obvious effort to recruit more female firefighters. Has anyone else been involved with a similar event? If so, how did it go? I am concerned that the show, the department and women firefighters, in general, has been (or will be) misrepresented. Thanks for your feedback.
  Posted 3/23/02 xxxxx Reply to: or
  Age Issue

I currently work in the facility management field, but am considering a career with the fire service. I am physically fit but not a "big" girl and I am somewhat concerned about passing the physical requirements, but am more concerned with my age - 34. Am I too old to be embarking on this type of career?

  Reply posted 7/21/02 from

Dear Jennifer,

I was wondering what sort of response you received regarding your question on age. I too am considering a career as a Paramedic... but am afraid that I might be too old. I have already completed the EMT certification. I am pretty darn fit... in fact probably more fit then a lot of 25 year olds. So the physical part does not concern me. Anyway just curious if anyone responded.


San Mateo, Ca.

 Posted 3/23/02 xxxxx Reply to:

Sept. 11 Fund-Raising Efforts for EMS Workers Ongoing
By Julie Schaeffer

Still want to help the families of the EMS and fire personnel killed on Sept. 11? So do others -- so many, in fact, that I've gathered information about ongoing fund-raising efforts.

EMS Rescue & Relief Fund
National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians
408 Monroe Street
Clinton, MS 39056-4210
Contact: Lisa Lindsay, 800/34-NAEMT

The EMS Command Memorial Foundation
P.O. Box 2650
New York, NY 10108-2650
Contact: Richard Fox, 917/250-4208 or

The NY Fallen Firefighter Rescue Workers Fund
1127 Broadway, Suite 102
Tacoma, WA 98402
Contact: 253/274-0424 or

EMS Orphans Education Fund
1046 Rudd Road
Gastonia, NC 28054
Contact: 704/854-3884 or emsorphans.org

Club New York EMS Fundraiser
A December fund-raiser at Club New York brought in approximately $15,000 for the families of the eight EMS workers who died on Sept. 11. The same event organizers will hold a second fund-raiser on April 10. The EMS Memorial Command Foundation (see above) will distribute all money raised. The event will take place at Club New York, 252 West 43rd Street, from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m.

Guests will enjoy a buffet dinner from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.; a cash bar will be open all night. Tickets are $20 in advance, $30 at the door. For information and tickets, contact event organizer George Contreras at 646/425-0111 or .

 Posted 3/20/02 xxxxx Reply to: or
  I would just like to thank Brenda Berkman for her comments as quoted on Firehouse.com addressing the feelings of marginalization women are experiencing in the wake of 9/11. I was feeling the same way -- every time I heard "firemen", "the men", "these guys", etc. I felt very frustrated and overlooked. I found only one picture online of a female FDNY firefighter working on the scene. And I know they were there -- but people just want to look at pictures of mustachioed men because that's the traditional firefighter look. It's not a popular or "PC" viewpoint, but it takes courage to voice it.

I think it's a shame that NYC doesn't feel that FDNY should be encouraged to hire women -- "because" of 9/11 FDNY is excused from EOC standards? Is it true they have 600 new hires, only one of which is female?

Also in the article was a quote from an official stating to the effect that they can't lower the standards because that's how people get killed -- people who can't pass the standards are "weak links". Yet I have never once encountered a department that required all its active firefighters to pass the same standards they hold recruits to. One department I tested for let tall applicants knock over barricades they couldn't fit under easily, but disqualified candidates for failing to perform tasks more easily completed by taller people. We had to hoist hose over a railing that was almost five feet tall without touching it -- but the guys who couldn't squeeze under the barricades while hauling hose could just knock them over and continue with the test.
I suppose it's obvious that I am voicing some frustrations here! I'm really beginning to wonder if this vocation is worth it -- not to mention putting up with the opposition in the firehouse itself. Anyway, thanks for listening!

Posted 3/14/02 xxxxx Reply to: or  

I would like to hear from women who have a policy in place on being pregnant and actively working as a firefighter/paramedic. My department currently has no policies like this in place, and has not had to cross that bridge yet. I'm the first female on my department as a career firefighter, and as of yet the only one. I would like to hear from you gals that have been pregnant while on career departments, and how things went for you.

I would also like to hear from any doctors out there with any advice on this issue. My OB/Gyn's advice is that we will see how the pregnancy goes, and take it from there. I was wondering if there are any long-term complications that can result from working late in your pregnancy and actively fire fighting. My doctors have not had to deal with this issue, and wanted me to find out information about it, and policies in place in different departments.

I would love to hear from anyone who has advice and has been there! Thanks!!!

Posted 3/14/02 xxxxx Reply to: or   
  Hi!! I'm Sara Gosnell and I'm 12 years old. I basically grew up in a fire station. When I get older I would like to become a fire fighter. I was looking at the Morehouse Volenteer Fire Department roster and I noticed that the only woman fire fighter on the fire department is my mom. She assists when they're having practice drills, weather watching, and much more. My dad is also a fire fighter. I intend on being the next fire fighter on that squad. I would also love to join Women in the Fire Service. Keep on helping America!!! You are my inspiration!!!!

Sara Gosnell
Morehouse Fire Dept.
Posted 3/14/02 xxxxx Reply to: or  

I am trying to get together with a few women firefighters in Long Island, NY.

My experience in the volunteer fire service was not favorable, and I would like to get in touch with women who also encountered harassment, disparate treatment, discrimination, et cetera.

If this is not applicable to you, that is great, and I hope in the future there will be more departments like yours!

 Posted 2/26/02 xxxxx Reply to: or  

I am a volunteer firefighter in a small town. I just received a verbal suspension from interior structural firefighting secondary to asthma (which in my case is bronchial asthma, flares up if I get a cold or bronchitis). I was told to get a physician's clearance.

I cannot find any policy in the department or my company's by-laws that gives the department chief this authority. NFPA standards list 95 other conditions that may affect a firefighter's performance, however, no one else has received a suspension.

I understand and agree with liability issues. I completed my basics with no difficulty. Should not a policy be in effect prior to any suspensions? I heard that the department chief wants to make up a policy over the next month. Would it be correct for me to request a written suspension and the policy or by-law that supports it? I feel this suspension is an arbitrary decision by a new department chief.

Incidentally, I run, lift weights and aspire to be the first woman line officer in a hundred year old department. Any suggestions on how to handle this situation gracefully?

 Posted 2/19/02 xxxxx Reply to: or  

This is probably late in coming concerning the pregnancy issues that have been brought up. Our departmental policy is reasonable accommodation. The department I work for is the third largest in the country, running over 300,000 calls a year. I thought I wanted to work in full capacity for as long as possible, but soon changed my mind after a call involving a vehicle that was fully involved. Yes, we wear SCBA's but there is still always a chance. I wasn't willing to risk that. In this job there are just to many factors involved including your safety and the public's. I was working in Fire Prevention as my light duty assignment up untill two hours before delivery. I took 6 weeks off, returning to the fire truck and full duty. With the second I took 4 weeks and back to the truck. I used sick leave on both occasions keeping my full paycheck. For the most part I love my job, but there are definitely issues.

Stay safe and keep the rubber on the pavement.

 Posted 2/19/02 xxxxx Reply to: or  
  I was the first female firefighter to be hired at the department I am on. I am very proud of my accomplishment and very much so accepting of the guys I work with. I don't expect them to change a thing since I came around. They are, in return, very respectful of me. I came to this job knowing that it would not be easy and, being that I am the only female on the department, knowing everything I did would be pin pointed. It is getting better all the time. Would like to converse with people in the same position.
Posted 2/19/02 xxxxx Reply to: or  
  I've been in the fire service as a dispatcher for six years and a paid-on-call firefighter for four years prior to that. During my POC years, my goal was to become the first full time female firefighter in my city. Somewhere along the way I changed my mind. I'm not really sure why - perhaps it was fear. I have never totally forgotten that dream. If I worked REALLY hard, I could be ready to try out just before my 35th birthday. I'm writing to get opinions to see if it's just going to be too hard to get started in my career at that age. I realize that I would have to maintain my physical condition and I would certainly be prepared to do that. Any suggestions or advice? Any would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!!

 Posted 2/19/02 xxxxx Reply to: or

Hi! Our volunteer dept. is currently purchasing "dress" uniforms, basically a dress shirt, rank insignia, etc. We're also writing a SOG with regard to funerals, etc. My question is this: The men would be wearing a standard necktie as part of their uniform. Is it customary for the women to wear the same type of necktie, or is there something else? Any suggestions or input would be greatly appreciated! Please feel free to e-mail me.

Thanks again!


  Posted 2/13/02 xxxxx Reply to:

Hi! I am a 22 yr. old female living in a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio. I'm an aspiring firefighter, and I was wondering if there are any women firefighters in my area, or the rest of Ohio, that could give me advice on training programs for females. I will be taking part in the Cuyahoga Community College programs, but would like to get involved in as many as possible. Also, I am about to start the hunt for a volunteer company near me, so if there's anyone with suggestions please write me! I'm feeling very alone in my firefighting quest because of the small number of firefighting women that I have heard of in my area ... so if you're out there, I'd love to hear from you!


 Posted 2/11/02 xxxxx Reply to:


I just happened to stumble across this site and couldn't click to it fast enough! I am a 33 year old woman, with about 7 years experience as a Firefighter. I worked on an Air Attack Fire Crew, hand crew, hot shot crew and engine crew. I have worked for City, County, and seasonally with the U.S.F.S., here in Southern California. I have finally been promoted and picked up as a full-time U.S.F.S. Firefighter. I am currently going through the conversion process, and will be attending the training academy near Sacramento in about 3 weeks.

I am not sure what to expect exactly, but know it is a month-long intensive training program (both mentally/physically),and will at the very least be an interesting experience. I was wondering if any women Firefighters(whom have attended this particular academy) might have any advice or information that will help shine, and be successful in completion of this task?

Any input would be greatly appreciated, and maybe help me calm my nerves...lol.

If you do email me, please put "academy advice" in the subject head, otherwise I won't open email from people I don't know.

Thank you,


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