Women in the Fire Service, Inc.
Bulletin Board/Guestbook Archives
March-June 2003

To reply to a posted message, you may contact the poster directly, e-mail your reply to WFS, or both.

WFS will edit messages for length as needed, and will screen all messages for their suitability for this site. Inappropriate messages will not be posted. With few exceptions, we will not post links to private businesses or other for-profit entities.

Please read this important disclaimer! We encourage all visitors to exercise caution in giving out any personal information (such as telephone numbers) or entering into business or personal relationships with strangers -- here as on any other website. Inclusion of material on this page does not constitute its approval or endorsement by WFS, Inc.


Other Bulletin Board archives:

March - September 2004
October 2003 - March 2004
x x July-September 2003 x x x January-February 2003 x x x October-December 2002
July-September 2002x x x February-June 2002 x x xNovember 2001-January 2002
September-October 2001
x xJune-August 2001 x x xMarch-May 2001
January-February 2001 x x May - December 2000
March-April 2000 x x xJanuary-February 2000 x x x November-December 1999

Posted 7/2/03xxxx Reply to:

Hey, I'm so glad I found a website like this one! I am a rescue driver with the James Island Fire Department in South Carolina, close to Charleston. I've been in the fire service for a year and a half, and I love it. The guys I work with are really great, and I feel fortunate that I have found a department where sexual harrassment will absolutely not be tolerated.

However, I have volunteered for a department where it is commonplace. My advice to other women trying to make a career and gain respect is to be respectful but not to a fault, try to get along with everyone, but if that's just not possible, then oh well. Not everyone is going to like you and who has ever gotten anywhere by being a doormat?????

And last, work your butt off, but work smarter, not harder. Nothing comes easily, and women have to work three times as hard to gain respect. Keep your head up! Enjoy your job, it's one of the only careers that you will never see or do the same thing every day.

You can email me at . I would love to talk to some other female firefighters!

Posted 7/2/03xxxx Reply to:

My name is Richard and I am a writer working on a book dealing with the lives and careers of women firefighters in North America. I have been inspired by my sister, a firefighter in South Texas. I am looking forward to interviewing six frontline, female firefighters from as many cities. Interviews will focus on the subjects background, reasons for entering the fire service, effects on family life, and achievements throughout their career.

I was referred to the Women in the Fire Service, Inc. website by Firehouse.com. Anyone interested in my project may contact me at . Thank you for your time.
 Posted 6/23/03xxxx Reply to:


My name is Lindsey Crowl. I am a senior at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. As part of my graduation requirement I must complete a senior project. Due to my interest in a career in firefighting, I chose to assess the lifestyles of women firefighters who are mothers. Balancing parenting with a demanding career is extremely important to me, and I would love to hear what you firefighting mothers think about your situation.

If you are a firefighter and a mother, and would be willing to fill out a questionnaire to help me with my research, I would appreciate it. This is a university-sponsored study, and your confidentiality will be honored. You can submit the questionnaire by e-mail.

If you are interested, please contact me at Thank you for your time and keep up the good work.

Thank you,

Lindsey Crowl

 Posted 6/9/03xxxx Reply to: or


I am a 22 year old female that just recently got on our local volunteer fire department. My dad is a lieutenant on the department, and after watching him for years, I knew I wanted to get on some day. This year, my chance came. I passed the physical test along with the other five guys. This being a first for our department, because I am the first and only girl on -- it's always been a "guy thing" here.

Everything has been going pretty good until recently. One of my good friends is also on..he is 10 years older, married and has a kid. The other day our chief wanted to talk to me and him, because someone saw him touch me inappropriately. Our chief didn't think it was a big deal, but thought he should say something because someone brought it up to him. He knows we are friends and have been for a long time, and trusted us. The thing that just bothers me is that someone is trying to start something up that has no reason to be started. If I felt something was unappropriate, I would say something.

I talked to my friend about it later, and he said not to worry about it, and don't let that get me discouraged. But than he also told me that my dad said something to him, too, because he thinks we are more than friends. My friend kept telling him no, and hopefully he believes him. I'm mad about that, because it makes me think that my dad doesn't trust me at all. I wouldn't mess with someone else's man. I know my friend better than any of the other guys on the department, so it may seem to them I am always around him.

I really don't know what to do about all of this. Right now, I have no desire to even go to the firehouse. I thought we were suppose to be a "brotherhood." Why would guys start all this? Before, I felt like I really didn't fit in, and now with this I'm just really pissed off. My friend said if it continues he will say something at our next meeting. But I don't know if I can stand people talking behind my back, thinking things are going on. How do I clear this up? Have any other women gone through this. I always knew it was going to be tough being the only female, but I never thought this would happen.

Please respond if anyone has any ideas for me.



Posted 6/9/03xxxx Reply to:

Registration for Online Summer Fire Tech Classes Ends 6/18

If you already have your degree or don't need these classes, please pass this opportunity on to others who may be interested!

Earn your Associate of Science Degree in Fire Technology on the internet at Allan Hancock College in California. The summer session is an 8-week session that runs June 16th - August 7th. Mail-in registration will only be accepted until June 18th.

The following Fire Technology classes will be offered; general education classes are also available on-line.

FT 101 Fire Protection Organization
FT 102 Fire Prevention Technology
FT 103 Fire Protection Equipment and Systems
FT 104 Building Construction for Fire Protection
FT 105 Fire Behavior & Combustion
FT 341 Fire Hydraulics (elective)
WFT 101 Wildland Fire Behavior
WFT 102 Wildland Fire Safety & Survival
WFT 103 Wildland Fire Operations
WFT 104 Wildland Fire Public Information Officer, Prevention, &Investigation

For registration information or if you want additional information on the Fire Technology Program, contact me at

  Posted 6/9/03xxxx Reply to:
  I left my fire department for fear of my life.

I joined my county's volunteer fire department knowing that I would be the only girl and that females were not welcome. I knew I would have to deal with sexual harrassment and sexual discrimination, but I never dreamed it would be like this.

The department was a club of Good Ol' Boys. I knew I would have to become "one of the guys" to fit in and I felt like I was doing a good job of it. I put up with the comments and stares -- some of them very blatant. These came even from the Chief. I put up with it because I knew if I voiced my opinion that my life in the department would be made very difficult.

When I was on a mutual aid call in a neighboring county, my tire was slashed. I was on the rescue that day, which was the last to return to the station. I felt like a firefighter did it, but of course it couldn't be proven.

Two weeks later, a pile of food garbage was left on my back porch. It was laced with a strong neurotoxin and sent my dog into seizures within minutes. I know it was meant to kill him -- but it thankfully did not. He was beefed up on steroids so that his muscles wouln't atrophy, and he lost his hearing for about a week.

I have been living in this isolated community for six months. My husband and I felt that it was obvious that the person doing this was a firefighter.

If you will kill an innocent animal what else will you do? Rape me, hurt me, burn my house down, kill me?

I lasted four months in that department. The only girl in the nearest department lasted 6 months. I can only imagine the stories she has.

That is my story, thank you for listening
 Posted 6/3/03xxxx Reply to:

I just want to say hello to all my sisters in the fire service and comment on this wonderful web site. It is great to have a place where women in the fire service have a place to discuss common issues and concerns.

I work for a small beach community department in South Carolina near Charleston. Our dept. currently has about 40 employees with 3 women (including the chief) on the paid roster and a couple more as volunteers. This is my first post with a fire dept. and I would love to chat with other women about their experiences as they move up through the ranks. Email me at

Be Safe,
Julie Morton

 Posted 5/27/03xxxx Reply to: or

Hi! I am currently in Paramedic School in Northern California and am seeking a position with a fire department. I will be testing with lots of departments in the future... I have received some coaching from a Captain who specializes in preparing candidates for the oral interview. He believes women should NOT wear a pant suit to their oral boards. Does anyone have any information on this? Is it legal to take off points on someone's oral board score simply because they were not wearing a skirt suit? I thought this was absolutely ridiculous and wanted to get the opinion of anyone who
has information about this.

Thanks for your time!!!

 Posted 5/27/03xxxx Reply to:

Hello. My name is Devonshire and I am 16. I was just wondering if my plan to become a firefighter is a good one. I'm graduating high school a year early (with all my required credits, of course!) I plan on enrolling in a technical college which offers the fire science course.

I've wanted to be a firefighter since 8th grade. I hope to work full time. I will be the second female firefighter in my family. (My older sister is a paid-on-call firefighter). People tell me that firefighting isn't a very good job, I strongly disagree with them. Is the path I'm taking a good one? I've talked with teachers at school and gotten their perspective, but I wanted one from a real firefighter. If you can, email me!

 Posted 5/11/03xxxx Reply to:

Hi! I need some help. I am trying to relocate and am wanting to get on a fire department about an hour and a half from Madison, WI. Does anyone have any info they could share to help me find some openings or at least start testing? Please reply to me directly at .


Posted 5/11/03xxxx Reply to:  or

Hi. My name is Bonnie and I am a fire chief in Minneapolis. I am researching dependent care in the fire service and am not finding much. I am hoping that some of you will have information for me.

I am interested in hearing what dependent care options are currently available for fire service folk. Are there 24-hour options, employer subsidized options, on-site care, or even dependent care spending accounts? If you have any information please email me at .

Thanks for your help, and be safe!


 Posted 4/14/03xxxx Reply to:  or

I have been a firefighter with my local department for 3 years. Eight months ago, I got hired as an industrial firefighter at a nuke power plant, which is mostly fire protection. My volunteer department is where I get my experience. They are like my family. I have worked hard to gain their respect.

Recently we had a fatal wreck. I was on the first due truck, the rescue. I have yet to work the Hurst tools other than training, so I was excited thinking this was my shot. The medic called the victim (DOA) on scene, so we were to wait for the police photos and power company to fix the pole. Then there was going to be an unrushed body recovery.

The assistant chief wanted unessental personnel to return to station. I was shocked when he sent me back and I wasn't allowed to stay with the truck I came in on and work the tools. I held my tongue on scene, but afterwards, I asked him about his decision. He thought about it and said his decision was colored by the idea that the fatality would upset me.
He didn't want me to see it.

I was so angry. I am an adult. I can decide what I am capable of handling and what I can't. His response was that it is
his responsiblity to look out for our safety , physically and emotionally. I expect to be treated that way at mutual aid calls and even at work where they don't know me that well. But I've let my guard down at my volunteer department. I
thought they looked at me as one of the guys. They've seen my work. They know I've seen worse wrecks and fire fatalities. What do I train for anyway? I talked to the chief and he said he would talk to him. But it rings hollow to me.


  Reply from posted 4/16/03

I don't have much to offer but sympathy. It does sound like you weren't given the respect you were due, and that's a problem that's epidemic in the fire service.

I think you handled it well -- no one could argue that you were anything but professional on the scene, and you were within your rights to bring it up later. If someone's prejudice causes them to not use personnel that are needed, or to not
allow personnel to get needed training and experience, or whatever, that person is hamstringing the department. They're not providing the best service they can.

I hope your one complaint was all the wake-up call this guy needs, although it usually isn't. Stay strong and stand up for yourself!

 Posted 4/11/03xxxx Reply to: 

I am a college student studying for my Fire Science degree, and I am also a certified EMT. My ultimate goal is to be a city firefighter paramedic (and later an engineer, then a captain, and so on).

I have an opportunity to work for the California Department of Forestry this summer as a wildland firefighter. It's not the same work I would be doing as a city firefighter, but I imagine it would look pretty good on my resume.

My other option is to work as an EMT all summer and get my ambulatory hours completed so I can apply to paramedic school. I'm entirely self-supported so salary IS an issue for me.

Can anyone please tell me which they think would be most beneficial to me in my job search?

Thanks a lot!

 Posted 4/11/03xxxx Reply to:  or
  Hello! I am a volunteer firefighter and I am looking for some kids' t-shirts. I just returned from IFSI in Indianapolis and was very frustrated with the "male" geared clothing - "my dad is a firefighter", "my grandpa is a firefighter", even "my uncle is a fire fighter". I even had one vendor say he would take a magic marker and cross off dad and put mom in for me. Needless to say I didn't buy anything from his booth. I have found "My Mommy is a firefighter" online but I don't think my 9 year old daughter or 11 year old son would wear a "mommy" t-shirt. Does anyone have any web links, catalogs, etc. that can help me out? Thanks in advance to all the "mom" firefighters out there!!
 Posted 4/7/03xxxx Reply to: 

I'm pretty outraged, I'm not quite sure where to begin and what to do about these matters.

Our secretary of our department was hired about a year and a half ago, and in this time has been give permission to wear a firefighter's uniform. Some (one) female in the dispatch room has been given the right to have a firefighter's license plate on her vehicle and wear a firefighter's uniform.

Now, much like most of you, I have worked long and hard to get where I am, and I (along with most of the male FF's) am offended that these privileges have been given to them. Not to mention, they are representing our department, and female firefighters. There is also a training class that is being brought in (usually just for firefighters) just for three female
dispatchers. Now, we need this certification in our department to promote, but someone will be bumped out of the class so that the dispatchers can take it, so they can get a job in inspections. I can't believe how things are just "handed" to them. When I ask my supervisor why they get these things, the reply is usually "that's what the chief wants".

What can I do about this?? I have always strongly believed that it is NOT my right to be a firefighter, it is my privilege. And that, seems to be thrown out the window here. This is all just the tip of the iceberg. The corruption runs deep.

Anyone have any suggestions?


  Reply posted 4/9/03

Dear L -

You need to check the civil service laws of your department. Do you have a union? If so, what does the union have to say about the secretary wearing a FD uniform? My state has a law that states who is entitled to wear a FD uniform and who isn't. Only one person at a department is allowed the title of "fire records clerk," everyone else is considered office personnel.

Dispatchers -- some departments consider dispatcher essential personnel. It has also been traditionally reserved for light-duty or injured firefighters. Times have changed and the computer technology and radio frequencies are more technical than even ten years ago. Dispatchers in my department are all NFPA FF1 certified. It is also a requirement that they are uniformed personnel. Apparently you have the mindset that dispatchers are less than dirt, instead of the people who monitor you and your safety on the fireground.

You also make mention that a special class is being given for dispatchers to be certified in a certain area. Then you go on to say that it will be taking spots away from those that need the certification. If this class is being given just for the dispatchers, then firefighters on the floor are given an extra opportunity to get this certification than was initially scheduled.

I am unaware of the exact situation you are in, as I am on the outside looking in, but, if a person was hired as a Fire Chief and had spent no time on the trucks as a firefighter, but is an excellent administrator, would you respect that person? Do you also feel that promotion based on seniority is fair? Intelligence is just as important as physical strength.

 Posted 4/2/03xxxx Reply to: 

Hello! I am a Grade11 student at the Cowessess Community Educational Center in Saskatchewan, Canada. I have a series of questions I was wondering if I could ask a woman firefighter. It's for a research paper about firefighting in my Forestry 20 class. It's an interview of questions. I would really appreciate it if you could reply to this as soon as possible and if you are interested in answering my questions. Thank you for your time and information.

The one and only
Sweetpea Delorme #78

 Posted 3/27/03xxxx Reply to: 

Help! I need progessive departments' pregnancy policies! I am a pregnant female firefighter in Florida. My department just changed our pregnancy policy so as to not guarantee a non-hazardous duty. It would only be provided if special projects "are available". My chief even tried to put it on the Dept of Labor, saying that DOL advises pregnancy policies should mirror restricted duty policies (ie. broken arm from skiing). I would like to get hold of policies in which non-hazardous duty is provided once the pregnant firefighter chooses to come off-line.

I can be contacted at:

Posted 3/27/03xxxx Reply to: 
  Hi, my name is michelle perry and Im a writer. I'm kicking around ideas for my next project and my heroine is going to be a female firefighter. I have tremendous respect for all of you and wonder if anyone would field a few questions, once I get them assembled. My email is if anyone can help. Trying to get a set of revisions in, then Im anxious to get started on this. Thanks!
 Posted 3/19/03xxxx Reply to: 

We're trying to gather information about Weapons of Mass Destruction preparedness (I know, I know, a little late, huh?). What I'm asking of you is to send me info about what your department does in regards to the safety of line personnel. If you have anything in writing regarding the program you have in place, I would really appreciate a copy. Also what we need is an inventory of whatever supplies you carry either on your person, if your dept issues a WMD kit, and/or any WMD supplies kept on the engine/truck/etc. And the final thing I need is where you get that stuff.

Also, we are gathering information on what type of wellness/maintenance programs other depts have in place in regards to employee vaccinations (Tb tests, Hep B, fit test for Tb masks, smallpox vaccinations, etc.) and any information regarding guidelines and procedures, as well as how this information is maintained. Any information from you will be gratefully appreciated!!


Dele Peterson
 Posted 3/19/03xxxx Reply to: 

I am a training specialist with the Federal Emergency Management Agency. I manage an exercise based course of integrated emergency management at the National Emergency Training Center in Emmitsburg, MD. I am seeking to recruit contract adjunct faculty to come in once or twice a year and do both classroom presentations and role playing in the exercise control room. Our audience each week is made up of 65 students from all over the country who come to learn the issues of responding to large scale disasters, working will all disciplines. We have a TV/radio studio, dedicated telephone system, radios and other equipment to simulate an EOC/911 center. Our website is www.training.fema.gov/emiweb/IEMC/ for more information. We are looking for more diversity in our adjunct faculty to reflect our increasingly diverse student population. Any of your members who has experience making presentations and is considered an expert in the field of firefighting/EMS is encouraged to email their resume to me. Thank you.

Rae Varian, CFM
Training Specialist
Emmitsburg, MD

 Posted 3/17/03xxxx Reply to:  or

Hi to all,

I work for Miami-Dade County Fire Rescue, Florida as a firefighter/EMT and I love my job!! Fortunately for me, my dept is very progressive and I have encountered no unusual obstacles related to my gender. My husband (also a firefighter) and I just came back from a vacation in colorado and have all but decided to move there, which brings me to my point...does anyone out there have the demographic info for the paid fire and/or fire/rescue departments in Colorado... not that it really matters, but I am curious what I will be getting into as I begin my search for employment out west!

Thank-you to anyone who can help!

Brandy Paternoster

 Posted 3/12/03xxxx Reply to:  or

Dear Women Firefighters:

On 9/11, I worked as an EMT for a private company. As a woman and a first responder, I am writing to engage you in conversation about the possible war on Iraq. I am truly interested in your feelings about it, even if they are different from mine, and about starting an open dialogue within our work community. I am terrified to send this as I know my view is extremely unpopular. Please respect the spirit in which I approach you.

While I believe that all of us involved in 9/11 deserve justice, I am becoming increasingly concerned that we are not seeking justice but a revenge that will kill more innocent people. I am becoming increasingly convinced that the death of Iraqi mothers and fathers will not help me heal -- it will certainly not bring back those we so desperately miss. Also, as an EMT, I do not choose to save only the victims who look like me, share my faith or were born in my country -- instead I faithfully attempt to save the life of anyone who needs me. Given this, it does not make sense that I support the creation of any more casualties here or abroad.

Do I think Saddam should be in power? Of course not! Do I think any more Americans should die as a result of terror? Of course not! But I am not sure that this war will make us safer. Even the CIA told the president, in October, that if we go to war, we can expect retaliation on American soil. This certainly holds a bigger safety risk for us than it does for your average citizen. And while I will instantly volunteer my services should this occur, I am terribly concerned for our safety. Especially considering the massive budget cuts that are shutting our firehouses down (I'm headed to a rally right now!) and cutting EMS units. In addition, given our nation's racist and classist military recruitment history, we will certainly be targeted to join the war efforts.

Again, I am not writing to upset anyone or make light of all we have been through. Instead I am writing to attempt to come to some sort of peace within myself, given the course of world events since 9/11. I am extremely interested in your thinking on this matter, and look forward to hearing back from you. Thank you for your time and all you do every day.

Be safe,

Meg Bartlett

"To some, talking about peace is a sign of cowardice -- but in fact it is a sign of strength." -- Nelson Mandela

  Reply posted 3/19/03

I am equally distressed that the legitimate outrage, pain, and frustration felt by our country on 9/11 have been perverted into this mindless and unnecessary war against Iraq.

One of the simple things I have found to make my postion known is the following:

Together with thousands of folks around the world, I'm putting a light in my window. Mine is a string of white Christmas lights, and sometimes a candle; it could also be a lantern or a small light bulb. If enough of us do the same, we can send a strong message of continued opposition to war and continued hope for peace. It's an easy way to keep the light of reason and hope burning, to let others know that they are not alone, and to show the way home to the young women and men who are on their way to Iraq.

A website called MoveOn is keeping a count of the people who are joining in this simple act, from places all over the globe. Please put a light in your window every night, and add your name to the list at: http://www.moveon.org/windowlight/

Thank you.

Maria T.

 Posted 3/11/03xxxx Reply to:  or  

I need help. I am attempting to put together a mentoring program for new hires. My department is worried about legal issues, such as; How to deal someone who might want to sue for bad advice given. Can a form be made to cover this, would it be legal? What should the department's role be? Should the personnel department be involved? What kind of training should a mentor have, if any?

I need to answer these question before I will be allowed to develop the program. If you have such a program in your department and can help, please e-mail me.

Thank you,

Judy Horner
 Posted 3/11/03xxxx Reply to:  or  
(Please note that repeated replies sent to the poster's e-mail address by WFS staff were returned as undeliverable, apparently blocked by anti-virus and anti-spam sensors.)


I am a polytechnic student; I am doing a project on women in "men's" professions; my thesis is that most women can do any job as good as any man even when it is physically demanding.

I am looking particularly of women practising or doing for real the fireman's lift. I have made a thorough search of the internet for this but all I have managed to find are "sex sites", which I can hardly submit to my tutor.

Can any women firefighters who have photographs of short videos of this nature either send them to me or contact me.


Wendy Evans

  Reply from WFS staff posted 3/11/03

Dear Wendy;

I would not expect you to get many replies to your post, and I wanted to let you know why I think this will be (besides the fact that e-mail to you seems to get returned!)

The "fireman's lift," by which I assume you mean the firefighter's carry, in which he or she drapes a person over his/her shoulders, is really not taught or used much any more, at least in most fire departments. This has nothing to do with gender, but instead reflects two other factors:

1. Firefighters are taught to crawl in conditions of heat, smoke, and poor visibility. We are therefore taught how to remove a victim by dragging them, not carrying them. (Similarly, tests for firefighter job candidates include dummy drags, not dummy carries.)

2. The firefighter's carry was developed way back when, before firefighters routinely wore self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA). The SCBA bottle makes the carry much more difficult, as well as extremely uncomfortable to the victim if they are at all conscious -- it hits them right in the gut.

I took my fire training in the mid-1970's, and I did learn the firefighter carry, but even at that time, it was pretty clear we would never use it, and that it was just in the curriculum because it had "always" been there. The only time it could conceivably be used is with an unconscious person who had to be removed in a hurry, by one person, from an area that was not on fire -- which is an unlikely combination of circumstances.

For the record, I've seen plenty of average-sized women able to perform this carry. It's mostly in the technique you use in getting them up off the floor, which is the only really difficult part. It is not difficult to carry someone who is twice your weight, once they're perched on your shoulders.


Terese Floren

 Posted 3/7/03xxxx Reply to:

I am looking for any women that attended the women firefighter weekend in Montour Falls NY. It was held in Sept. of 2002. I am interested in knowing what the cost is and what classes are best to attend or if there is time to attend all of them.


Posted 3/7/03xxxx Reply to:


I'm hoping to become a firefighter in the greater Los Angeles area in the not-too-distant future, and would find it very helpful to talk to female firefighters in the area. Please e-mail me if you can help.

Thank you,

Jasmin Harvey


Home   Job opportunities WFS' publications   About WFS
Current bulletin board Joining WFS WFS conferences   Links