Women in the Fire Service, Inc.
Bulletin Board/Guestbook Archives
July-September 2003

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Posted 9/20/03xxxx Reply to:

I'm looking to find some feedback. I'm a 25 yr. old female thinking about entering the fire service, and want to know what its REALLY like to be a firefighter. I'm kind of lost in life and not really sure what i want to do. I've worked in retail, earned a bachelors degree, served in the US Army, and now i'm working as a tv news photographer. I cant help but feel that my life is meaningless, and i'm getting desperate to do some good for the world. I'm just not happy working a job just for the money, and i wasnt happy in the Army training all the time, and never putting that training
into use. I just really want to be the hero of my own story, if that makes any sense.

I'm restless and want to do something meaningful with my life. I'd rather be the one helping people than the one shooting the video to put it all on tv. So if there's anyone out there who has an opinion on wether i'm deluded or not,
please let me know. The Army wasnt the great adventure i thought it would be, but i DID learn a lot from it, and there's a lot about that sort of life that i do miss. I want to know what the reality is before i get my heart set on something. Please feel free to e-mail me privately.


   Reply from posted 10/7/03
  To Christine and all other women looking to become firefighters: I am a full-time female firefighter and know how hard it can be to reach your goals. In my opinion, the best way to become a career firefighter is to volunteer with your local fire department. Many will take you despite no experience at all in the field and train you in-house. Some, like mine, will allow you to live in the station and even give you a small salary and reimburse you for tuition for fire science classes at the local community college. Try contacting department in your area and see if they have a program like this. If you're willing to relocate to Southeastern Washington, the College Place Fire Department has several openings. Call 509 529-6505 for more information or e-mail me. -- Andy

To Jennifer who was worried about starting FF in her 30's: I got my first career job in my early thirties and found my age an asset. Don't let your age stop you from pursuing your dreams.
Posted 9/17/03xxxx Reply to: Misty at
  THE ULTIMATE HARMONY see rideawave.org. I want to start a chapter down here but especially for women with chronic auto-immune illness or other immune dysfunction that is controversial like mine (mold exposure). Pass this around to as many people as possible. Any volunteers ? I will get firefighters / paramedics that are lifeguards. They have time off and some have post traumatic stress syndrome themselves so we all get healed as we heal others. Ironically the fury of the ocean teaches mercy and dignity to those who have had lost hope.
Posted 9/17/03xxxx Reply to:

hola que tal

mi nombre JOSE LUIS COAQUERA soy bombero voluntario de Peru me gustaria establecer una amistad entre colegas mi e-mail () si puedes escribirme por favor espero tu respuesta.


Posted 9/10/03xxxx Reply to:

My name is Shirley Dicks, author of nine books, and I'm writing a book now about women who are doing things not expected of them, some are grandmothers who ride motorcycles, I'd like to get a couple of ladies who are fire fighters, car racers, pilot etc.

I'd love to include a chapter about you and how you became interested in fighting fires, what problems you encountered on your way, any times when your life became in danger, how your family reacts to your putting your life in danger...and anything else you'd like to tell about. Chapters are usually twenty or so pages long, and would like to include photos as well of you. If you know of a couple of ladies who might be willing to talk about their experiences, the older the better for this book, would love to contact them, or you could pass my email on to them. Thanks and looking forward to hearing back from you. Email me at

Shirley Dicks

Posted 9/2/03xxxx Reply to: or

About a year and a half ago, I posted a message regarding my concern with entering firefighting in my 30's. I live in Vancouver, Canada, and have just been accepted to fire school. I will be 36 when it finishes in the spring of 2004. In this province one must complete this course (NFPA firefighter Level 2) at one's own expense (about $10,000) before even applying to any department - it's a basic pre-req.

I'd love to take the course but am seriously concerned that my age will affect my hire after I complete it. I have also read some disturbing things (ie. harassment stories) regarding females in this profession - one I strongly believe we should have a greater presence in - and I'm wondering how prevalent this is (any Canadian ff girls out there?)

I had some great feedback from several people when I posted a message before - which was wonderful and encouraging- and I am now seeking straightforward, honest opinions and advice (before I quit my job and spend 10G!)


Posted 8/6/03xxxx Reply to: or

I am seeking Fire-Rescue Organizations that have Maternity Notification policies and also if any organization has a policy that places a pregnant firefighter on a limited duty assignment at a specific time (certain number of weeks) during her gestation period.

Is there any recent literature that supports limited duty assignments at a specific number of weeks and the justifications for such?

This is all within the framework of the federal laws that allow employers to limit an employee's assignment based upon her ability to perform the job not upon potential threats to the fetus.

Please reply via email as posted below. Thanks.

Rhoda Mae Kerr
Deputy Chief, Administration and Domestic Preparedness
Fort Lauderdale Fire-Rescue

Posted 8/6/03xxxx Reply to: or

I am hoping to get information from other female firefighters who are pregnant or were pregnant and how it affected their training or duties. I am 29, 3 months pregnant, in good health, and in training to be a fire-fighter.

Thanks for your help,


 Posted 7/29/03xxxx Reply to: or

As a fellow firefighter, I need to ask a favor. I have a student who is working at a department down here in South Florida. I am sure you probably have heard of the hazing incident where she was hog-tied by fellow firefighters with masks on while sleeping in her bunk on shift. (Two firefighters were fired, and others suspended, as a result of their actions.)

This happened in February. She is now back on the job and a model employee. As you can imagine, many of the male firefighters are, let's say, giving her a lot of pressure, trying to make her quit. At a union caucus the other day they (the loud mouths or squeaky wheels) said pressure should be put on her to quit the union and then hopefully the job.

A website has been made by people... same as above, to harass and intimidate her. (www.coralspringsfire.com) It is cracking her down little by little. She loves the job and does not feel that by being a victim of this stupidity she should have to quit her job. If you could email her any advice or guidance it would be appreciated. Thank you. Her email is

 Posted 7/23/03xxxx Reply to:
  I'm a volunteer (pay per call) fire fighter with the Lakeshore Fire Department in Ontario. I have been on the force for 11 years and absolutely love it. I am also trained as a emergency medical care attendant. I write an article for a magasine that is distributed to 17,000 firefighters in Canada. My next article will be dealing with "pregnancy and the firefighter" if any one has had any issues or experiences I'd love to hear about them. My email is

Firefighter Cindy M. Fuerth, EMCA
Posted 7/23/03xxxx Reply to:
  I am a firefighter who has recently relocated to the San Diego, California, area with my family. I have been in the fire service for 8 years in South Carolina. At my former fire department, I held the rank of Lieutenant in charge of 3 engine
companies and a rescue squad. I also served as the department's Public Information Officer. I am eager to meet female firefighters in the area and to get back in the fire service. Please reply to .

 Posted 7/23/03xxxx Reply to:

I am gathering information for my final Applied Research Project (ARP), in the Executive Fire Officer Program with the National Fire Academy. The topic I wish to research is whether gender bias in the fire service is impacting promotional opportunities for women. Your participation and response to the survey by August 18, 2003 would be greatly appreciated.

In order to facilitate confidentiality of the responders I have established an account with an online survey service. Your responses will be entered and tabulated by Advanced Survey.

Instructions to participate:

Please go online to: http://www.AdvancedSurvey.com
Go directly to the "Take a Survey" box ­ type in 6650.

Thank you for assisting me with this endeavor. If you know other women who might be willing to participate in this survey, please forward the information to them. If you have any questions or have additional information that might assist my research, please email me at or call 541/917-7705.

Denise A. Giard, EMS Chief

Posted 7/21/03xxxx Reply to: or

I am an average 24 year old black woman living in Arizona. I am heterosexual, not married, no kids and am working on my psychology degree. I have taken a look at your website and I have a few issues I would like to share. With all the wildfire's we are having here and the WTC Bombing I have to say I don't think women should be firefighters. You talk about things being equal and fair, but no matter how hard you try, they never will be. My biggest problem is
that physically women are not built for the job. They have less strength even after muscle conditioning, this can be proven if you ask any medical doctor. Women can become pregnant, which makes them unable to perform there job in an effective manner. Because of this they become a liability to the job.

Also, in the Frequently Asked Question section you mentioned how women have no childcare options, may I point
out, single fathers have this problem as well. The hair grooming policies, uniforms, and sleeping quarters all uniformed for men - these are things that have been in place since firefighting began. Just like serving our country in the Army, Navy, any of them, there are reasons these "rules" are in place. They are to protect the life of theses
honorable people.

One last thing. When someone dies serving our country in any manner, they should not be recognized special because of there gender or race. They should be recognized for what they have done. Example: "Women at Ground Zero: Stories of Courage and Compassion" (book), what about the men, if you want things equal include the men.

As far as military, during boot camp, men have to shave their heads, why don't women, that's not being fair to the man, why can't he put his hair into a neat little bun above his collar? Hair becomes a liability in combat, it's an easy thing to grab.

If you disagree, please feel free to email me. I would like to hear your rational about what is "fair" and "non-discriminatory".


Moesha Jackson

  Reply posted 7/25/03

Dear Moesha,

I'm very surprised that someone of your background would have your opinion. Making a blanket statement by saying "I don't think women should be firefighters," shows ignorance. Not everyone can be a firefighter, either male or female. My point is this, people are individuals. Just because someone belongs to a certain gender or race, does not
automatically make them unsuitable for a profession. Broaden your horizons and try taking people as they are, as individuals. I'm sure that you would appreciate the same from people of your chosen profession.

Julie Chase

  Reply posted 7/27/03


I'm astonished, dismayed and disappointed with your posting. I find many false generalizations in your letter, which drummed up several questions in my mind about you. As a black woman earning a college education, you criticize others for persuing their formerly unfathomable goals, simply based on the status quo. This baffles me.

Looking back on history, you couldn't have entertained the thought of gaining a college degree, much less of becoming a recognized psychologist or psychiatrist, until the women's movement and civil rights movements came about. As in your field, ALL fields are opening up to people who, in years past, didn't exactly fit the bill. For example, look at physically and mentally challenged people who are now getting jobs in a variety of fields. Even 20 years ago, you rarely if ever saw a person with a disability on the street; now they are contributing members of the workforce, doing a job that empowers each of these valuable individuals. And, contrary to what you may think, they are physically able to perform their tasks. They are held to the same level of responsibility and performance as the others in their positions.

In the same way, you will be held to the same standards as your male counterparts. As am I.

Which brings me to the case of firefighters. Do you think that because I am a woman I can do the same things as Marion Jones (multi-gold medal Olympian), or contrarily, the woman who may have never raised a dumbbell in
her life? How is it that gender would parallel any 2 women's physical beings? Do you think that a man who weighs half my weight and can lift a fraction of what I do in the gym would truly be a better candidate for firefighter, based on the fact that he is a male? Your arguement lacks logic.

And I don't know any doctor who would support your letter. Not one. And, yes, I did ask.

The times are changing, Moesha, and it isn't a man's world. It is a world in which the best of women and the best of men can work together to make it a better place for all. You speak of logistics, such as sleeping quarters and uniforms, all of which are easy fixes. They are certainly things that can be managed to the satisfaction of everyone involved. As long as I can do my job, performing as well (at least) as the other members of my department and industry, I will continue proudly.

As I discussed your posting with several male firefighters with whom I work, they all found it hard to believe. They think you are doing a psychology project in which you are simply trying to elicit a certain response from women firefighters. If this is true, please let me know, because one of my captains has $5 riding on it.


Dele Peterson

  Reply posted 7/27/03

Ms. Jackson...

My initial reaction to your e-mail was three fold. Firstly, I thought you were a man posing as a woman. Secondly, as a Psychology student, this was a class project to elicit responses. But alas, I have come to the conclusion that in fact, you are delusional.

It's good to know you're a black, heterosexual, working on an educational degree woman. This website would never begrudge you for feeling it necessary to relay that information. However, it seems by your writing that the Arizona sun must have diminished your mental capacities. Please venture with me down the not too distant past: 1) African-American (Black, Negro) folks were once considered not to have the same intellectual capacity as caucasians. But, I'm sure you would agree this is not the case. Albeit, we have more work ahead of us.

2) Women folk, not too much earlier than the racial revolution were thought to be lesser than men. Thus, the women's movement for equal treatment. Again, we're not quite there yet... especially with your help.

Why in the world would you employ the same negitive and ignorant mind-set towards women in the fire service if history serves to teach us these lessons? Step out of the sun, give your brain and the rest of us trying to make a difference room to expand.


  Reply from posted 7/31/03

Dear Ms. Jackson;

Because some of the points you made were specifically in reference to material appearing on the WFS website, I felt it was important for a representative of WFS to respond.

1. "My biggest problem is that physically women are not built for the job."

Many people, of either sex, are not physically suited to be firefighters. Many women have shown themselves to be highly capable firefighters in both urban and wildland settings, for the past thirty years and more. Our organization's position has always been simply that anyone who is capable of performing the job successfully should not be prevented from doing so by some artificial rule like "No Women Allowed."

2. "Women can become pregnant, which makes them unable to perform their job in an effective manner."

Many women have fought fires while pregnant, although this is not recommended due to the possible risks to the baby. Firefighters who become pregnant typically make use of the same type of leaves that are available to other firefighters who are sick, injured off duty, or away on military duty. In any case, it is against both state and federal law to discriminate against a woman because she is pregnant or might become pregnant.


3. "You mentioned how women have no childcare options, may I point out, single fathers have this problem as well."

WFS has always supported child care options for firefighters of either sex. When the question is, "What are the issues facing women firefighters?" child care is one of the answers. If someone were to ask, "What are the issues facing firefighters -- male or female -- who are single parents?" we would say the same thing.


4. "The hair grooming policies, uniforms, and sleeping quarters all uniformed for men - these are things that have been in place since firefighting began. Just like serving our country in the Army, Navy, any of them, there are reasons these "rules" are in place. They are to protect the life of theses honorable people."

There are indeed reasons these "rules" were written the way they were. The reason hair policies and uniforms in the fire service were originally designed for men, and that sleeping quarters were built for men only, is because that's who was in the fire service at that time. If the fire service had been all women for 100+ years, and men were just starting to become firefighters, they would have the same problems getting uniforms to fit. When circumstances change, it's important to look at old policies and see if they still work under the new circumstances. If they don't, they may need to be changed.

There are many side benefits to some of these changes. For example, male firefighters with smaller feet can now get boots that fit, because manufacturers are now making smaller boots in order to accommodate women. And many fire stations are being built with partitions in the bunkrooms that provide privacy for everyone, so that when your neighbor is snoring, or reading in bed with a night light, you're not kept awake as well. These changes benefit everyone.


5. "When someone dies serving our country in any manner, they should not be recognized special because of there gender or race. They should be recognized for what the have done. Example: Women at Ground Zero: Stories of Courage and Compassion (book), what about the men, if you want things equal include the men."

Have you ever visited a town and seen a monument to the soldiers from that town who died in World War I or World War II? Do you feel that recognizing these soldiers is unfair to all of the other soldiers from around the country who died in those wars? In many states, there are monuments to the firefighters from that state who have died in the line of duty. Is it unfair for the Colorado firefighters' monument to ignore the firefighters from Arizona and Nebraska who died? Is it unfair for a national firefighters' monument to ignore police officers who have died in the line of duty?

My point is, we all have communities that are important to us, whether it is our family, people from our church, people who live in the same town as us, or people we share an occupation with. Within that community, it is perfectly acceptable to honor people, without intending any dishonor to others. Our organization does not say that the sacrifice of women firefighters is greater than that of men. We are simply honoring our own, while never losing sight of the fact that we are part of a greater whole that includes women and men alike.

As specifically regards the book, "Women at Ground Zero," this was written for one specific purpose: to make a small effort to balance out the flood of publicity the men who responded on that day were receiving. As you probably recall, there was a huge amount of male hero-worship after 9/11, with interviews and books and articles honoring the "firemen" and the "courageous brothers" who died. Many well-informed people honestly had no idea that women had responded, and died, at the World Trade Center. The obvious answer to that is to say, "It wasn't all men: here is some other information you may not have seen yet, about the women who were there."

For a similar reason, we include on our website historical information specifically about black women firefighters. We did this because the effects of racism have meant that these women's contributions to firefighting have been even more invisible than white women's. Do you feel it is wrong for us to publicize their histories in this way?


6. "As far as military, during boot camp, men have to shave their heads, why don't women, that's not being fair to the man, why can't he put his hair into a neat little bun above his collar? Hair becomes a liability in combat, it's an easy thing to grab."

I do not work for or represent the military, and can not answer for them. Fire service "boot camps" do not require anyone to shave their heads. I would agree with you that if there is a legitimate reason for male military recruits to shave their heads, then women military recruits should have to do the same thing, though I believe the actual reason is more to humble the new recruits than it is anything to do with safety.

As to hair being a liability in combat, please keep in mind that women in the U.S. military are prevented, by discriminatory laws, from serving as combat troops; thus women soldiers' hair length is irrelevant in that context. Once the combat exclusion rules are abandoned, I would hope reasonable and safe requirements as to hair length for all combat troops would be implemented.


Terese Floren
Executive Director
Women in the Fire Service

  Reply posted 9/23/03

Dear Moesha,

I am not an average 42 year old Hispanic female, or female, according to your standards. At 40, I went to Ground Zero because I had the medical training and experience as well as the knowledge of the city streets downtown that made me an asset in saving lives. However, I could not reach them in time. I saw the first building fall and arrived just after the second had collapsed. My only function at that time was to re-stage triage and assist in the second wave of rescue efforts. Gender didn't determine my function there, and even the men had difficulty dealing with what they encountered.

I am a single mother of two children a girl 6 and a boy 4. Rescue work was my service to my community as a volunteer, six hours, once a week. It is how I gave back and became a role model. The amount of minority role models needs to be nurtured, not broken down. With nine years as an EMT I made a difference. In the nine years I carried people down and up four or five flights of stairs most of the time with other women partners and never with difficulty. I have four cardiac saves and have mentored five women and one man. My gender never limited me to save a life.

When I depart this earth, I want to be thought of as a woman of substance, integrity, love, kindness with a big heart who conducted herself in a positive light. The fact that I am a woman was important at Ground Zero because men were highlighted in the news. I want my daughter to know she can dream BIG and reach it. I want her and other children to know that we live in this free country and worship any religion, study any theory and perform any job. I also want her to know that this freedom comes with a price that many have stood fast to defend from Abraham Lincoln to Dr. Martin Luther King. We no longer live in the dark ages and need to enlighten those that still think that way.

Should you ever need hand I bet you more women would step up than men since it is by nature in our genes but as a psychologist, you knew that!

God Bless you!

Reggie Cervantes
Oklahoma City, OK formerly a NY State Rescue Worker

  Reply posted 9/23/03


It is a world of freedom of speech and everyone is entitled to an opinion -- I am sorry that you feel this discouraged and disgruntled about the issue of women becoming firefighters and your comment in regard to the book "Women at Ground Zero".

In the field of psychology you have to learn many things about people, cultures, subcultures and a lot about your stereotypes, prejudices and feelings towards sensitive issues. I was a social worker for 15 years, I assisted many
people and had to learn my own lessons but it made me a better person. Yes, there are injustices in the world, there is discrimination in the world but the reality is, it is a male dominated society; so do we become subservient, slaves or property again?

As far as the strength factor in firefighting -- not all women are built or have the character to become a FF -- just like everyone does not do the same job because we are all different.

It is no coincidence that I was reading the postings today -- you see, tomorrow, it will be determined if I will be hospitalized or have to leave my job, which will affect my status as a volunteer FF/EMT and a steady per diem job as a
maintenance worker/EMT at a local fire department. I was one of the Women at Ground Zero and I was serving the public like I do 365 days a year. I have had military training as a young adult; I am a coworker, friend, daughter,
granddaughter, cousin, partner, and many more things make up who I am. A FF/EMT is a job title, a part of who I am! No one in the world was prepared for 9/11/01 -- not even the "MEN"!

So, Moesha, take time to find out who you truly are before passing judgment on those who choose their own path in the world, study hard and get some lifetime experience behind you so you can be the best person you can be -- it will also help those you will assist in the future.


A Survivor of 9/11

Posted 7/7/03xxxx Reply to: chiefmartin320@msn.com or

I'd like to hear from recently hired female firefighters who've taken the CPAT. I'd like to know:

1. your background prior to taking & passing cpat (academic, athletic, work experience, military?)

2. your pre-test prep & orientation

3. # of female FF & minorities on your FD

4. your general opinion of cpat before & after hire

5. your length of service

6. your jurisdiction (optional)

Please, give me your personal perspective on your experiences. I'm especially looking for info that will enable us to enhance the experience for this group of applicants. We participated on CPAT panel @ FRI 2002 & wish to try to follow through on CPAT process to maximize success rates, esp. for women candidates.

History: only city in Pennsylvania using IAFF/IAFC Joint Initiative, including CPAT in 2001, Health & Wellness in 2002, and recruiting & mentoring program emphasis for 2003. We've rigorously followed CPAT requirements & were successfully re-licensed last year when IAFF revoked all CPAT licenses.

I am a 27-year member with current duties (staff chief) to recruit & mentor diverse & under-represented population groups. Our 202 member FD (175 sworn FFs) has 1 African-American male (me) & 3 females for diversity ratio of 2%. Recruiting campaign just concluded last month has yielded average 17% minority applications returned. This is about double female & minority interest of prior years. Of 323 apps returned, about 60 were returned by females & minorities, with 50/50 split between two groups. If your FD has a fair number of female FFs, please send one e-mail per group (unless you feel your particular experience would be different from that of your sister FF's.

Thanks, GEM

  Reply from posted 7/31/03

Dear Chief Martin,

In response to your post, I would like to offer the following:

1. Background: I am a 29 year old female carreer firefighter,married with no children. Prior to taking the CPAT and being hired, I was a volunteer firefighter on and off for approximately 9 years. I was also a paid EMT-B at a couple of private ambulance services, as well as doing some work as an ER Tech. at a hospital.

2. Pre-test Preparation and Orientation: about a year and a half ago, I decided that, although I loved EMS, fire service was definitely where my heart was. So I applied at two local departments, both of which had implemented the CPAT as their first condition of hire around 5 years ago I believe. Since it's implementation, no female had passed it, and neither department had but a handlful of females, at least on the fire side of the house. I took this as a bonafide challenge and truely believed that I could be the first. For my first step in preparing for the test, I spoke with another female at one of those departments who I learned was not only a preceptor for the test, but also a personal trainer at the local gym that I already attended. After explaining to her my goal, she worked up an endurance based gym program that was very different from any other that I had had previously done. I began training with her until I was comfortable then eventually on my own. I did on average of 30 to 45 minutes of cardio training per day, focusing usually on a stair master machine, alternating with an eliptical training machine, building to higher and higher resistance each week. I did this 6 days a week. In addition, keeping in mind that a female firefighter's biggest foe is her lack of upper body strength, I did a lot of weight training too (I worked legs too but, only 2 out of my 6 days a week at the gym were dedicated to that). Gradually over 6 months, I increased my lean muscle mass and endurance and lost a lot of body fat. I was in good shape before but by the time I took the test I was in the best shape of my life. I attended the orientation for the test and after it was over they allowed us to get some hands-on familiarity with the equipment that would be used for it. Then I went back to the gym and adjust my weight training according to the muscle groups that I noticed would be most overworked during the test. In short, I lived, ate, slept, and breathed that test for 6 months strai ght! But it paid off and I was the first, and still the only to pass for the two depts.

3. Number of females in the department: I am not really sure actually, but on the fire side of the department there are only a handful of us, all but myself who came on before the CPAT, so I don't know if that helps you much.

4. My opinion of the CPAT: Well, actually, I think it is as true to form as you can get. Each one of the exercises focused on a specific common firefighting activity. I agree that it is tough, but I know it can be done. In some ways, I actually feel that women have the advantage in that test. But all in all I think the CPAT is as fair a test of firefighting abilities as one can get.

5. Length of service: I passed the CPAT September 10, 2002, got hired mid-November, then started rookie school in early December.I graduated February 7, 2003. and have been at the station ever since and am loving every minute of it. This is everything I had ever hoped for.

I hope that some of this helps. I will gladly share my workout program with anyone who needs it, as well as offer some tips that they don't give you in orientation that may help as well. My goal is to educate women that they CAN pass this test with the right preparation, an enormous amount of dedication, and a great attitude!

FF Misty Stockman
Columbus, Georgia

Posted 7/7/03xxxx Reply to: or
  My name is Julie, and I've been a fire fighter/paramedic with the Walla Walla Fire Department since 1996. I'm looking forward to meeting like minds through the WFS website. Send an email to say hello!
Posted 7/7/03xxxx Reply to: or
  I am a Firefighter/Paramedic with NASA/USAF. I have been a Firefighter for about 20 yrs now. Gear fit has always been an issue in the fire service. I am having a problem with the fit of my SCBA. I am wanting to know if any other women are having problems with their SCBA's, not the mask, but the actual pack fit. We finally got masks to fit us. When on my back, the pack sticks up and out from my shoulders (you can actually slide your arm all the way through the gap there) and if I bend over it either slides from side to side or slides up and hits my helmet/neck. My helmet bangs the bottle while standing and if crawling, I can't lift my head at all. We are using the Survivair.

I have read the survey done several years ago, and wish to know if women other than myself are still having problems with this matter.

Please email me at and let me know which problems you are having and which pack you are using. Also if you previously had a problem, but the dept has now found a pack which does fit, please let me know which one. Thank you for all your help!!

L. Dawn Tait
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.

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