Women in the Fire Service, Inc.
Bulletin Board/Guestbook Archives
January-February 2003

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 Posted 2/27/03xxxx Reply to:

Hi, there. I am trying to learn more about wild fire fighter Dana Pickel. She was interviewed by Vanity Fair but I don't know anything else. Please help if you can.


Posted 2/25/03xxxx Reply to  

I need advice. I recently tested with a fire department and am now #1 on the list and the Chief has offered me the job. However during testing, I failed (along with several others) the physical agility by just a few seconds (it was pass/fail). The physical agility was thrown out, though, because of some irregularities (which I think contributed to my slow time -- I've passed every other time I've taken the test).

They decided not to have candidates re-do the test, and ranked us on our scores in other testing areas. I'm worried others will think I was given special treatment because I'm a woman (i.e., they wouldn't have thrown out the physical agility scores if the woman had passed). I think it's possible to likely this may be true. I've offered to take it again with the "irregularities" corrected, but the civil service commission won't allow it.

I've never asked for special treatment and can absolutely do the job but I don't like the perception of unfairness. What should I do? Should I take the job? Should I let #2 have it since he passed the physical agility test?

   Reply from posted 3/3/02

To the question about taking a job after the test was tossed, here is my two cents.

I have felt the way you described about every job I have had. But it never stopped me from doing what I know I loved and was skilled at.

I have always assumed that is how all the men felt I got my job. They have the right to their assumptions. After working with some of them I have asked and they said that was what they thought. But, it really doesn't matter. I knew I could do my job. I knew that with time and effort they would realize that too. Some of them never will, and to tell you the truth I really don't care. I love what I do and I know that I got where I am by working hard. Harder at times than most of the people in that room, but this is what I wanted.

My suggestion to you is to be proud of yourself. Take the job and do your best. You will know after being there a couple of weeks if the rest of the crew is going to see how good you are or only believe their misconceptions.

Good luck. And do what feels comfortable for you. Who's to say the guy under you is great at his skills? The community needs a person like you. Someone with a heart.


   Reply from posted 3/3/02

Well, I'm no expert in these matters -- but I'd say, take the job. You did not ask for special favors -- they decided, on their own, that the physical test was invalid, right? And you were top-ranking otherwise ... I think you deserve the job at least as much as #2 candidate, who obviously doesn't match your qualifications in other areas.

I still think you're taking the right step by offering to do the test again. It seems odd that the results would be considered invalid, and a retest not allowed. If it's the agency you're applying to who made that decision, I might look into it a bit more -- not necessarily because I think you're getting an advantage, but because it doesn't seem like a really fair process, and you're right that it kind of casts a shadow on whoever gets hired -- and it's not really fair that you might have to deal with that. There might be others affected too.

Nonetheless, it sounds as if you are behaving ethically in this matter, and they think you deserve the job, so if you want it... take it!

Tell us how it all turns out!


Posted 2/25/03xxxx Reply to:  or  
  I would greatly appreciate any information on structural firefighting gloves made for small hands. I'd love to hear from those who have battled and conquered (hopefully) on this issue, rather than ordering gloves at random.

 Posted 2/21/03xxxx Reply to:  or  

Hello everyone!

I wrote earlier about problems with the air bottle knocking my mask forward and/or my helmet off. I've gotten two suggestions... and since others have e-mailed me to see if any ideas have come through, I decided to post it. One individual said to keep the shoulder straps a little looser (don't tighten them after fastening the hip strap). I found that to work for everything but crawling on all fours. Another person sent the following suggestion:

"I had similar problems with my helmet, mask and SCBA. The thing that worked for me is loosening the headband in my helmet (fiberglass Metro-style with adjustable band) before putting the helmet on over my mask and hood. Once it's on my head, I crank it down as tight as I can stand (there's a knob that tightens it). It takes a pretty good whack to get the helmet off, plus this method doesn't disturb my mask. I tried tightening the chin strap, but it constricted my breathing too much."

I haven't tried the second suggestion yet, but from the sounds of it, it will definitely help! Thanks for your suggestions, I really appreciate it! Hopefully this helps the others out there also! Have a great day!

Thanks again,

Melissa DeLoria

 Posted 2/14/03xxxx Reply to:  or  

Hi there,

My name is Marci and I recently joined the Chippawa Volunteer Fire Department (Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada) as a probationary firefighter. I am currently the only woman in our small (40 person) department, although several women have preceded me. The guys have been fantastic so far, very helpful and welcoming, and they are bending over backwards to make a "good fit" for ALL who are involved. It was with the greatest pleasure that I found your website though -- it's nice to know that there is support out there if it is needed, and we don't have to re-invent the wheel at every turn.

I have worked in non-traditional occupations throughout my adult life, both offshore as a hydrographic surveyor and onshore as an engineering technician in heavy construction. Although my fire service experience is limited, I am finding that it shares many of the challenges of other non-traditional occupations.

This is not a particularly highbrow topic, but one of the challenges I have repeatedly encountered is the lack of washroom facilities (for either sex) on the fire ground. Our gentlemen counterparts have been blessed by nature so that they may at least urinate discreetly when necessary, but we are not similarly equipped.

Accordingly, you may be interested in an article titled "A Woman's Guide On How To Pee Standing Up". I can tell you from experience that the method outlined in this article CAN be mastered with a bit of practice, even for a certified klutz such as myself. If you are interested, the link to this article is www.restrooms.org/standing.html.

The one drawback to the technique outlined in the article is that it doesn't work well when wearing bulky clothing such as bunker gear, multiple layers, or heavy winter clothing. Adaptive technology makes up for many deficits, however, and I have recently found a product called "Travel Mate" which works beautifully in all instances.

I would like to emphasize that I am in no way affiliated with the company that makes Travel Mate. However this little device is inexpensive, discreet, and has saved me many embarrassing and physically uncomfortable moments, and I'd like to share knowledge of it with other women in the fire service.

I'd love to hear from anyone regarding other adaptive techniques or devices. I've tried several similar products, (Whizzy and Shepee) but so far the Travel Mate has proven to be the most convenient and tidy solution.

Further information may be found at www.travelmateinfo.com


Marci Weston

Posted 2/13/03xxxx Reply to:  or

Hi all --

I've lurked here for a bit, but not actually responded yet. I think this is a forum with a lot of potential, but a bulletin board that only works through email is cumbersome to use.

Does anyone know of a forum specifically for female firefighters -- bulletin board or mailing list -- that you like to use? I'm very interested in finding a community of fire service women. Is that something that currently exists, or something others are interested in creating if it doesn't?

I'm a volunteer in a relatively small community, and currently the only female firefighter in my department who's on full duty (though we do have two medics).

Feel free to respond via this board or email me if you have any answers or comments.



 Posted 2/13/03xxxx Reply to: 

I went on this site looking for information my son needed to write a report on women in the fire service. My husband is a firefighter and I have two dear friends who are female firefighters. While I admire, love and support them, (I too considered joining), I have some problems that I would just like to verbalize for your discussion or personal thought. It is fine and good when a woman can actually do the job equally to a man, but there are many who cannot. Sadly through litigation and equal rights offensives, they are allowed to still hold this job. I do not think that the physical testing and agilities should be adjusted for women. Do it or don't. Because my problem is this. What if my husband goes down and she can't pull him out. He is a big man of 6'2" about 220 lbs. Do I tell my four children it was an equal rights victory? The women that I have personally met in the department over the years, cannot perform the tasks physically that they are called on to perform. They have TONS of heart, TONS of courage and TONS of my respect for trying, but the practical end is life and death. Should they have the right, I suppose so, but should they actually do it...No. Something to think about. I hope this isn't seen as women bashing in the department. I know there are some of you who actually can perform on the level of a fit man. More power to ya sister friend. On the same note...there are many, many, many men so unfit that they cannot perform their duties either. I am unbiased toward or against either sex, just biased toward my husband walking back through the door.

A Firefighter's Wife

  Reply from posted 2/14/03

Dear Firefighter's Wife,

I read your posting and it was thought provoking. I too believe that a fair physical standard should exist within the fire service. My opinion is the reason physical standards have been controversial is that it is a single measurement of a multi-faceted job, a job that requires both brains, brawn and heart. Too often this standard has been used to eliminate qualified people from this job using the phyisical measurement as the sole determining factor. Another thing that is frequently done with these standards is they are used as a right of passage into the fire service and never applied to the firefighter again once he or she leaves the Fire Academy.

The ideal firefighting standard would be one that measured ALL the qualities needed to perform our jobs. In addition it should be a standard that ALL the members should be able to meet. I am not speaking of gender delinations as much as age deliniations. If a physical standard is put in place it should be a reasonable standard that can be met both by the young "rookie" firefighters as well as the older "veteran" firefighters. In addition a measurement of mental acuity, environmental endurance, medical skills and decision making skills should be included. This standard should not just be a right of passage into the fire service but a continued measurement of competancy of each member of the fire service.

Regarding you mentioning having your husband go down, and fearing that the woman he is with is unable to "drag" him out, I have a couple of opinions on that too. First of all, we as firefighters are all supposed to be trained to do rescue techniques, to do partner rescue. Another fact is during a recent study it takes 12 firefighters to rescue one trapped member. It takes up to 20 minutes to accomplish this. Statistics show though that most times firefighters are injured as a group, more often then not. I believe the physical strength is important in this instance, but hold mental acuity, and stress endurance to equal importance in this type of situation. The abilty to think clearly under these stressful conditions will be of more help then any other quality in this type situation. The example I will use is something I experienced while in the Fire Academy.

I was partnered with a strong man for this exercise. It was a search and rescue exercise. Prior to this evolution, it was common knowledge that the individual I was partnered with was just in this for a "paycheck" (i.e. he had no heart). For the record, I was having a difficult time on one portion of our physical standard evolution (using a maul -- sledgehammer -- to drive a tire with rim across the room). We were both placed in a pitch black narrow winding hallway with multiple doors. The man went first. He became frustrated almost instantanously. I then offered to go first. By using my head, I got us to the door in record time (the instructors on the other side did not let me out the first time because they thought I cheated). We beat all the other teams in this evolution. It was brains that won in this instance.

In closing I believe you have fallen victim to an all too old argument, an argument that has no place in the new milleniuem. Diversity has brought about positive changes for both men and women within the fire service. We have learned that brass fittings and cotton hose can be replaced by aluminum alloy fittings and lightweight hoseline, allowing the firefighter to use his/her strength to do other things like: put out fires or rescue people. Technological advances, due to demand, will continue to make the fire service more "people" friendly. This will ensure the health and safety of ALL members of the fire service. So I beckon you, instead of investing your energies in discouraging women to enter this field, maybe you can appeal to the fire service to make your husband's job safer through continued training and safety equipment that will make his safe arrival home a reality.

A Woman Firefighter

  Reply from author of original post, posted 2/16/03

Dear Woman Firefighter,

What an incredibly moving response. I am VERY, VERY happy to say that I stand corrected. After reading and rereading your response, there is no area in which I am in disagreement. I am sorry to say that I was looking at a multi-dimensional problem from one perspective only. I can say with all sincerity that I would take a determined woman over a complacent muscle man any day no matter her physical abilities or lack thereof.

As well, I could not agree more that physical requirements should be an ongoing evaluation. In our particular department, promotion is acheived through academic testing alone. While this sounds like a fine idea, it does not take into account people/leadership skills, inability to test well, morale, bravery, etc.As a result, we are currently dealing with an administration that has difficulty relating to their men and women, conveying their goals for the department and boosting the morale of their firefighters. They can give perfect textbook answers to most questions. In addition, some of them were poor firefighters and can never lead people who have no respect for them in the field.

I would like to point out we do have a wonderful female fire chief whom I love with all my heart and who, as the first woman in our department, (and now first female chief), has endured a lot to earn the respect she enjoys.

Your letter is incredible. It is one of the most intelligent and informative works I have read anywhere in some time. Your ability to articulate your thoughts into words is a gift I hope you use in addition to your firefighting skills. My husband was excited about your ideas and knowledge of his profession. I have realized that I cared enough about this issue to verbalize my opinion, but not to truly inform myself before I did so. This, I think, is the definition of a fool. I hope that my letter in no way has discouraged you or anyone else from pursuing what I consider to be a wonderful life. Fire service from the helmet to the boots, from the trucks to the smell of smoke in the stalls is hypnotic. I love the station. I love our people. I love that my husband is a part of this world known to few. I love that my children will grow up there.

I would like everyone reading this to know that my former letter longer reflects what I would like for people to consider.

A Firefighter's Wife

  Reply from posted 2/22/03

To "A Firefighter's Wife"

Regarding your concerns that women will not be able to "pull out" your 6'2, 220 pound husband: is this a gender issue, or a size issue? My brother (also a firefighter) is the runt of the family, at 5'8 and 160. I am 5'10 and 165. Should either one of us be banned from firefighting just because you have a large husband? How about implementing size restrictions on firefighters instead? No one over 6' or 200 pounds. Perhaps your husband should lose weight, out of consideration for his fellow firefighters who might have to rescue him. Seriously, I have heard this argument over and over during my ten years as a firefighter. I have never seen or heard of a firefighter dying or being seriously injured because fellow firefighters were too weak to pull someone out. In contrast, I have seen many firefighters who, despite having physical size, have become complacent and let themselves slide physically. The "women are too small to pull us out if we get hurt" argument is old, tired, and invalid. It assumes that all women are small and all men are big. Do you have similar concerns about the small men in your husband's department? I am willing to bet that the average size of a firefighter in his department is smaller than 6'2 and 220. Finally, think about this: if we change the rules and only allow the biggest people to be firefighters, who will rescue them if they get trapped in a confined space?????

  Reply from posted 2/25/03

The idea that firefighters should be smaller is an interesting take on the issue -- and points out the fallacies of the arguments against smaller (read: female) firefighters!

Of course, we can make regulations about firefighters, but we can't regulate the public! We are going to need to save people who weigh 300 lbs, and that just points out the need for good training and equipment to maximize the different kinds of strengths that different people have, which will make everyone safer.

"A firefighter's wife" asked a good question, in that I think she reflects the public perception. Now, she got a good response and understood it -- but she's probably familiar with firefighting, and was open-minded on the subject. Not everyone is going to be like that.

What do you recommend doing to convince the public that firefighters don't need to be huge and musclebound to do their jobs well? Is it possible for us to do that, or are people just going to continue to assume women can't handle the job? I have trouble answering questions like that one without launching into technical discussions, which very few people want to hear!

Does anyone have a good, layperson's answer to the question of whether we need more height, weight, or strength? Especially when the underlying thought behind it is usually one of sexism -- not that fireifighters shouldn't be 5'5", like some of the guys I know, but that it's women who just can't do the job?

   Reply from posted 5/7/03

 Dear firefighters wife,

You know, I have been a female firefighter going on 15 years in the fire service. Believe it or not, I am 5' 2" and around 110lbs. If there is one thing that I have learned over the years, it is that if you have a group of firefighters who are all the same (as in your Hollywood 6' 2" 220lb ) you would not be able to perform some of the quite varied duties that are required of the fire depts.

In most service areas in almost any city, medical and rescue calls usually make up the large % of overall calls per year. I passed an agility test back in 1988 that required me (115lbs at the time) to lift and carry a 125lb duffelbag, filled with sand,100 ft in 45 seconds or less. I also had to drag a 185lb firefighter,40ft in 30 seconds or less. I passed them both. Alot of training went into that.

Another part of the test was a blind maze, where an uncharged hoseline was wound over and under various things that were set up in the weight room.We had wax paper placed over the inside view area of our masks, and we were required to wear full turnout gear,which included an airpack on our backs. During this test, the four guys that went before me complained about how hard it was because it was extremely difficult for them to get underneath some of the obsticals. I was getting more and more nervous as my time to do that test got closer and closer.When my time came, I turned on my air and off I went and in the end, I beat all 15 men's scores by at least an entire minute!

What I am trying to get to here is, in any fire dept, you need a diverse group of people to do a very diverse group of tasks. I can't tell you just how many times over the years that my small size, my EMS knowledge, and my firefighting skills saved time (Ican fit underneath smashed in dashboards) I have been pushed underneath cars(to start IVs and assess patients) I can also gain access to patients trapped in vehicles through windows, before the jaws even start trying the door. I can also fit into small spaces in the attics to check for hot spots that the really big guys couldn't possibly get to.

I am physically fit, or as good as it can get at age 42. And I wouldn't trade my job for anything. I know that by me being there in certain situations, I have saved lives and helped a patient save as much of their "golden hour" as possible, by getting the jobs done more quickly. Because I could get to them and start lifesaving treatment, we didn't have to wait until the patient was partially extricated to begin treatment.Women firefighters rock!

Posted 2/12/03xxxx Reply to:  or

My name is Carla Blazier -- I am a Lieutenant on a third service EMS and volunteer firefighter. I have a paramedic who is pregnant. We can not find a suitable "maternity" uniform. We wear dark navy blue pants and button up/tucked in shirts.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. You can contact me at my email address.

Thanks, Carla

 Posted 2/12/03xxxx Reply to:  or

I wrote this poem and want everyone to read it. Its truely from my heart.


As I look up at you
You see me in my bunker gear
I'm a women and a firefighter
I can do anything
I'm nothing diff. than a man
When it comes to firefighting
I'm there for each call
I'm the one that could save your life
I pray each day to come home to my family
If the good Lord takes me I would be ready
You might think women can't be firefighters
That they can't tuff it
Women firefighters make great firefighters
One day in my life I will be one of the finest
One day I could save a life
So I'm a women
I am still one of the finest
Its all about saving the property, people, and surrounding areas
As I pray each night
I pray for all my brothers and sisters that give their life and save a life
I'm proud to be a fire women
I'm proud to be one of the finest
So next time you say the word fireman
You should think again
As I respond to each call I'm a firefighter
Neither men nor women are better in firefighting
We are all here for the same reason
We are here to save a life
So for now I pray that God will watch me as I go to the fire
And respond to the fire
So help me God and walk with me

 Posted 2/3/03xxxx Reply to:  or

First, thank you to all the women who paved the way so that women (like me) may have it easier in the FD.

I'm looking at participating in the World Police and Fire Games in Barcelona, Spain, in July and I'm having a hard time finding ANY women who will be there to compete. In fact, there are a number of FF events where I seem to be one of a few (if there are any others at all) women that attend.

I'ts early in my career (< 3 years), and I've never been a volunteer, so I'd like to learn as much as I can on and off the fire ground. I'm serious about my career and the guys acknowledge that, but it'd be nice to NOT be the only "dot on the page." (I'm sure you can all relate somehow).

If you're interested in attending these types of functions, drop me a line. Networking and support come in many ways and I hope that we all can make a strong showing at FF classes, conferences and events in the future.

In solidarity,

FF Marsha McCurdy

 Posted 2/1/03xxxx Reply to:  or

Hi everyone,

I am one of three female firefighters working in a department of about 65 personnel. We are civilians on an Army post. The department is very behind the times and does not have any SOG 's on women's issues. I am doing pregnancy issues first. Does any one have a good guideline for non- hazardous duty when pregnant? Please email me.

Thank you!

  Reply posted 2/1/03 from
  Anyone looking for policy guidance and other information on maternity and reproductive safety issues for firefighters should check out the resources WFS has available, both online and by mail order.
Posted 1/29/03xxxx Reply to:  or

Hi. I am 13 years old and I love firefighting!! We have this huge project this year and I am studying the History of Women Firefighters. If anyone has a story that they would like to share or if you know something that might help me, I would really appreciate it. I could use anything from problems you have had, to being the first woman in your department.
If you reply to my e-mail address, please put Firefighting in the subject.

Thanks a lot!!


 Posted 1/29/03xxxx Reply to:  or
  Hello to all women in the fire service, I retired in 1990 from the fire service where I was an EMT and the Chief Fire Investigator for our city, attended the Fire Academy in 1981, have my photo in front of the academy in Emmetsburg, Md., for the past 6 years I have been an expert witness and a consultant regarding fire and arson investigation a position I would have never had unless I endured some grueling years in the fire service, but let me tell you I smile every month when my pension check arrives. I have a lot of stories some good some not so good but ladies isn't that true of life? Best regards to all of you.
   Reply posted 1/29/03


I do not know your name, my name is Coleen. I wrote the post previous to yours, it was a poem. I have also been through some grueling times in the fire service. Initially my intentions were to stay in the Fire Service for at least 22 years. In addition I wanted to aspire to be the first female fire Battalion Chief. Those things have been taken from me. I lasted almost 11 years. Through most of this I have been silent. I have adhered to the rules of conduct during the investigation. Others involved though feel no obligation to this and went as far as to have both TV and news papers cover this story. It was sad that the community was privy to the conclusion of the investigation before even I was as mandated by EEOC law. I will enclose the link to the one news article that will provide just a small example of the behavior I had to endure. (http://www.philly.com/mld/dailynews/2003/01/25/news/local/5028495.htm)

I understand your belief that it was all worth it when you look at your pension check. Doesn't it anger you that your male counterpart earned his money but invested far less into the job? Not only did you give of yourself physically, but I am sure some of these experiences took a large emotional toll as well, a toll your male counterpart probably did not have to pay.

I parallel this, oddly enough, to childbirth. Just because a woman makes a personal choice to endure the pain of childbirth, does that mean every woman should be able to do this too? More importantly similarly situated males many times do not endure the same experiences as their female counterpart within the fire service. This is inequity. I think we as women who have endured this experience have a responsibility to the future women of the fire service. We can do this by being brave enough to come forward and speak up, although painful at times, to make the needed changes. Without doing this change will still come, but it will be painfully slow. I for one wish no one to go through what I went through, and will do everything in my power to force evolution within this line of work.

In closing I am glad for your success outside the realm of the fire service. I acknowledge your bravery during your time in the fire service, and wish you well in all your future endeavors. Once I recover I plan to try to figure out what it is I can do now that the fire department is behind me. Maybe you can guide me through this process, if I did not totally offend you with my opinion. Thanks for your insight.

Coleen Mitchell

 Posted 1/22/03xxxx Reply to:  or

I hope this poem can convey the feelings of many women when they experience discrimination and harassment. At the time it was the best way for me to express my feelings that were generated from my experience. It has been almost six months since I composed this, and I am still healing from the overall experience. If there is anyone else out there that has gone through this, know that you are not alone.

My Struggle Nears Its End

If I could only show you the pain inside of me,
The sight would repulse you.
How horrific it would be,
For I have lost the long, hard, fight,
I fought so valiantly.

At first when I began this journey
I only thought of me,
But as I traveled forward,
I looked ahead to see
The women who aspire
To equality,
And with this sight,
I felt I owed them
At least a part of me.

My endurance has fallen
As I pushed ahead for change,
And in its place instead,
I feel the torture and the pain.

The thought that I have failed is a burden I will hold,
As I pass this torch of change
To the next unsuspecting soul.

I hope for her success
As I slowly turn away,
For my time has come,
I give up,
I simply can not stay.

I hope that through my struggles her path is less resistant.
I hope that she can be
A little more persistent.

For my supporters,
I ask one thing of you,
Continue to uphold what is right,
And what is true.

And for those that took pleasure
In my destruction and my pain,
When you look into the mirror,
I hope you are ashamed.

In pursuit for what you believed was fun,
Or oddly right,
You made the battle tougher
For your sister, daughter, wife.

As you watch them struggle
This hard society,
Just remember you helped do this,

And then think back to me.

-- Coleen Mitchell, Lieutenant

  Reply from posted 1/28/03

That poem was incredible! Thank you so much for sharing it...

Oddly enough, I find solace in the song by Linkin Park, "In the End".

One part: "...In spite of the way you were mocking me/Acting like I was part of your property/Remembering all the times you fought with me..." Then it goes on about "I put my trust in you... pushed as far as I can go...."

It's a great song to scream sing while you are driving on a highway! Give it a listen!

   Reply from posted 1/28/03

That poem really hits home, sister!

We all find strength in strange places, and I find mine in music, most often.

The lyrics I need to share with you are in a song called "Shine" by Henry Rollins. Brilliant and beautiful and poignant and so applicable for all of us who have a hard time finding that light inside us when we've been told to put it out for so long. I listen to this song every single morning when I'm getting ready for work.

"If I listened to all the things that they said to me,
I wouldn't be here,
And if I took the time to bleed from all the tiny little arrows shot my way,
I wouldn't be here.

The ones who don't do anything are always the ones who try to put you down,
And you can spend your entire life walking around in the nowhere land of self-doubt.
Because when you start to doubt yourself, the real world will eat you alive.

It's time, it's time,
It's time to align your body with your mind.
It's hero time.
I'm talking to you! Hero time starts right now!

No such thing as spare time,
No such thing as free time,
No such thing as down time
All you've got is lifetime! GO!!!"

Stay safe!

-Dele (Maria) Peterson

 Posted 1/22/03xxxx Reply to: 
  We are currently wearing the same double-breasted jackets that the men in our department do. At a recent firefighter funeral (Mindy Ohler, may she rest in peace) we saw a variety of Class A's, and were particularly impressed with those of San Diego Fire Department. If your department has a nice looking women's Class "A", would you please send information to me about it? The spec, the manufacturer, etc. Thank you!

Dele Peterson,
Tracy Fire Department
 Posted 1/22/03xxxx Reply to: 

Dear WFS,

I am pleased to announce that after seven months and nearly a dozen applications, written tests and physical tests to various fire departments I am once again among the ranks of professional firefighter!!!

This has been a truly educational experience. I've dealt with everything from age discrimination to physical ability tests that were designed to keep women out. It amazes me that even in 2002-2003 it is still a big deal to have women in the fire service.

Despite all the obstacles I kept running into I found a department that not only embraced the idea of hiring a female but an experienced one at that. This wonderful department is the City of Grapevine Fire Department, Grapevine, Texas. With just less than 100 firefighters I am the second female firefighter among its ranks.

It is hard to put into words how absolutely wonderful it is to be back on the job. I will once again be performing the duties of both firefighter and paramedic. I am currently assigned at station #5, which houses a MICU and a quint along with an aerial platform soon to be placed back into service.

Thank you for your support and information you provided when I had questions.


Traci R. McGill,

Posted 1/9/03xxxx Reply to: 

I would like to invite everyone to look at the BS in Fire and Emergency Services Degree Program offered by the University of Florida. This degree program is offered totally on line. Entrance into the program requires at least an Associate Degree. The program may be viewed at www.bcn.ufl.edu/pde/. I am one of the developers/designers and instructors for this degree program. As a Firefighter/Paramedic with 20+ years of experience I can tell you that having a degree has opened many doors for me. The times are changing and education is going to be the key to upper level positions in the Fire and Rescue Departments. I encourage everyone of you to embrace education and take advantage of the difference it can make in your careers.

Barbara L. Klingensmith
Academic Instructor
Division of State Fire Marshal
Bureau of Fire Standards and Training
Florida State Fire College (www.fsfc.ufl.edu)
Fax: 352-732-1374

Posted 1/6/03xxxx Reply to:  or

I am a 42 year old woman who made a mid-life career change two years ago from corporate banking to paramedic. It has been difficult to secure a paramedic position in my area due to the extensive politics within the county where I live.

To broaden my potential opportunities, I have applied for a firefighter/paramedic position out of state (within an hour's drive from my residence). I take the written test on 1/25, and feel fairly confident about it (it's general knowledge, not fire related). However, the next hurdle will be passing the full CPAT which will occur after a 8-10 week mentoring period. I'm not overweight (ok, I could stand to lose 10 lbs or so) but realize that while the adrenalin rush gets me through current calls (I work full time now as an EMT-B/firefighter for a local fire company), I am overall lacking in strength, stamina and flexibility.

Today I started to take the steps towards improving all of the aforementioned. I printed out a CPAT orientation and preparation guide that I found online, and joined a gym today to start getting in shape. For the next month I just plan on getting into the swing of things. My plan is to do some form of aerobic activity each day (run/walk, a step class, etc.) and alternating weight training and Pilates. I would appreciate any helpful suggestions and tips for improving my chances of passing the CPAT.

Be safe,


 Posted 1/2/03xxxx Reply to:  or

 I joined a volunteer department recently (October 2002). After speaking to a few different women in seperate departments, I found the same problem as noted in the WFS protective clothing difficulties document, namely:

"Gear interface posed another area of problems: 31% of the women said their SCBA bottle routinely knocked their helmet forward or off. Others noted the SCBA facepiece pushed the helmet back, or that the helmet compromised the facepiece seal."

Is there something I can do to change this issue? I've heard you don't fasten the chin strap to help, but doesn't that still knock your helmet off? Please let me know, I am very interested in either stopping it being an issue or helping it not be as much of one.

Thank you very much,

Melissa DeLoria

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