Women in the Fire Service, Inc.
Bulletin Board/Guestbook Archives
October 2003 - March 2004

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 Posted 3/16/04
  We want to invite all firefighter women and their supporters to our 3rd annual "Women Building California" conference, held April 24-25 in Sacramento, California at the Convention Center at 16th and J Street.
This event is co-sponsored by the State Building and Construction Trades Council, and Tradeswomen, Inc., an advocacy/activist organization for women in non traditional careers.

It is a great venue for networking, learning and supporting each other. We invite all females in non-traditional careers to attend. It is a great experience!!!

For more information, please contact Beth Youhn, Executive Director, Tradeswomen, Inc., at 510/891-8773 ext. 313, or go to our website, Tradeswomen.org and click on "2004 Conference."
 Posted 3/16/04 xxxx Reply to: or

Hi Everyone, I am 25 year-old volunteer firefighter/EMT, in a small town. I have been a member for 9 years now. When I was 19, I was raped by the assistant district chief while getting a new fire coat from him at the firehouse. I really didn't know what to do when it happened, but I did report it to police, but never pressed charges. After about 2 months of denial, I decided to tell the district chief what happened. He basically told me I was a "slut" and deserved what happened to me. The police report is the only reason the department decided to investigate. They hired an attorney that had no interest in the fire dept., to interview myself, the assist. chief, and the police officer. Long story short, the assist. Chief admitted what he did, and was terminated from his position and also was prohibited from being a firefighter in our company ever again. I was informed of his termination via letter in the mail, I was never told verbally what action was taken against this man. I never received an apology, or was offered counseling. Well, over the next few years I remained very active (because I loved helping my community), but I never
felt wanted there after that day. All of a sudden they were making it very difficult for me to vollunteer. In 2001 after never getting any counseling after the rape I had a break down and was hospitalized for suicidal ideation. I was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder from the rape. I still continued to volunteer when I knew I could handle it, I never had a problem doing my job as a volunteer firefighter/EMT, and there
were never any complaints.

In November of 2001 I started receiving SSD for the PTSD, because I was no longer able to make it to work for all my scheduled shifts. I was told my Social security, my therapist, and my doctor that I could still volunteer, and that they thought it would help me get back into the work force full-time (I was a paid EMT before I went on disability). So I still continued volunteering, not as much as before but when I was able. I finally decided I should tell the chief I was on disability (people were spreading rumors and I wanted him to hear it from me). Anyway, I explained the whole situation and he just said "ok". A month later a received a letter in the mail saying I was prohibited from active duty because I was receiving SSD. They said the insurance company wouldn't allow it. I called the insurance company who denied this. So I went to the human rights commission, and currently have a suit against them for violating my civil rights and breaking the Americans with Disabilities Act. This was over a year ago and I'm still waiting for an investigator to get to my case.

I'm telling my story because I need advice, should the fire department have offered me counseling after the rape? Were they obligated to? And I would just like to know if anyone else has gone through this. Any advice or suggestions I would greatly appreciate! I really miss being a part of emergency services. Thank you for any help you can provide.


  Reply from posted 3/22/04
  My Dear Sister,

First of all let me applaud you for speaking out about this. It took a lot of courage and a risk. But I for one am grateful. My heart goes out to you for what you have had to endure, and I cannot fathom that a FD would handle such a serious matter this way, but I've seen and read evidence that they do.

A similar situation happened to me, though I was not raped. I was assaulted, then made a complaint, then ostracized, discriminated against in further training, etc. I had threats, phone calls, notes on my car, for just the milder things. It got much worse; the man who did this was a supervisor and allowed to resign. I eventually resigned myself. I was interrogated, interviewed, depositioned on and off tape a total of 10 times. Obviously an attempt to get me to crack and give up. It was very sad. I am currently in my 20th month of the lawsuit I filed against the FD and the person.

It has been a long 2 and half years since the assault. This week I am to undergo a medical/pysch evaluation,for 8 hours. I cannot take anyone I know for support, though my attorney has hired a witness to go with me. This is obviously an attempt by the defense to show me quite mad,which is a wonder after all this I am not yet. I have had to move out of state with my children. I am a single mom with 4 still at home and am a long time member of a 12 step group which has been my main source of help.

I could not use EAP for therapy because they have a position against counseling employees involved in legal action. It has been virtually impossible to find support among other female FF's. Even when they know and have seen the truth and the damage and the struggles and the ill-treatment, they do not want to get involved. I was blessed to have a fellow FF from another FD who happened to be a man and he and he and his wife were always there for me. He let me talk and listened and encouraged me like a sister. I miss him and his wife very much.

I am proud to be a Lady Firefighter and an EMT. I make no excuses for being where I am. It is not neccesary for you or me or anyone else, whatever their gender, to be subject to degradation, battery, discrimination, or any other indignity so as to maintain our career.

I would like to encourage you and help you if I can. Please write back here or e-mail me.

And yes, most definitely, the FD you were at should have driven you themselves to the EAP counselor if need be when they learned what had happened. I am assuming you are in the US? Many employers all over pay great amounts of money to educate their staff about sexual harrassment and discrimination. Its then up to the staff to enforce and follow the laws and guidelines. I want to believe this doesn't happen any more... I feel angry just reading what you wrote. It never should have taken place.

There is a reason for all things, sister. This forum is supposed to be a place of support. I'll pray some others respond and perhaps we can join together.
Posted 3/2/04 xxxx Reply to:
  Well, I can now say for sure there is life after harassment.

After going through the hose wringer a couple years ago in my former town/department, my kids and I have moved out of state and into a small town. Rough going but neccesary. It's been 6 months. My daughter who is 18 and in college just moved back home and she and I got on at the little volly FD here in town. I can't tell you what a relief it is to be around these great bunch of guys and one woman. What a difference! It's delicious to be back in the fire service! Today I climbed to the roof, hauled up a ladder and climbed it to the top. The guys were very supportive and my chief helped me get my foothold. I yelped loud when I got all the way to the top. The guys here don't know about what happened and they don't need to. They grinned when I yelled but they didn't really understand the victory behind it.*grin*

I've found, unfortunetly, that the guys I've worked with in the fire service tend to be more supportive than the women. I don't understand this. But it's okay. I'm back, my daughter is with me, and we're having a blast.

I hope to be working with the EMS here also soon as I am awaiting my renewal of NR card. My daughter won a hand knitted blanket at the firemans ball last night. It had fire symbols all over it. I told her it was a sign.

And I'd like to say this also: yes, you can work in fire and EMS and not cuss, not be a drunk, and not "run the chain of command" so to speak.
Posted 2/27/04 xxxx Reply to:

Delmar Learning Searching for "Street Story" Authors

I am a longtime member of WFS and I am working on a project with Delmar Learning to gather "Street Stories" for a revision of the company's popular "Company Officer" text. "Street Stories" are introductory stories, usually from 3-5 paragraphs long, that are found at the beginning of each chapter, and tell a real-world story that relates to the content found in the chapter. For example, in Delmar's "The Firefighter's Handbook," a street story about saving a sentimental object in a fire might be found at the beginning of the chapter on salvage and overhaul.

Delmar is looking for current or former company officers (lieutenants and captains) to tell their street stories. I am especially interested in a handful of those stories being from women and minority company officers, which is why I am posting to the WFS board!

You don't have to be a writer to participate. If you can just get the basics of your story on paper (i.e. the computer) I will work with you to edit your story to merge with the content of the chapter and the overall text. If you want, you can even tell me your story by phone and I will write it for you. Regardless of how the story is told, you will receive credit for the story in the text, citing your name, rank, and department. Street story authors will also receive a complimentary copy of the text once it is published.

The following is a listing of chapters found in the revision of the Company Officer text. I am looking for a story that relates (even indirectly) to a topic contained on this list. Please email me ASAP if you are interested in being a Street Story author, in which chapter you think your story best fits, and how you want to tell your story (email or interview.) If you have a story and you are not sure where it fits, email me and I will try and match it up with a chapter. (I also have an expanded table of contents with chapter objectives/topics if you would like to see that also.)

Thanks! I look forward to hearing from everyone.

Andrea A. Walter, Delmar Learning Author and Field Editor

   Introduction: The Company Officer's Role
   The Company Officer's Role in Effective Communications
   The Company Officer's Role in the Organization
   The Company Officer's Role in Understanding Management
   The Company Officer's Role in Managing Resources
   The Company Officer's Role in Understanding Leadership
   The Company Officer's Role in Leading Others
   The Company Officer's Role in Safety Management
   The Company Officer's Role in Fire Prevention
   The Company Officer's Role in Understanding Fire Behavior and Building Construction
   The Company Officer's Role in Fire Investigation
   The Company Officer's Role in Planning and Readiness
   The Company Officer's Role in Commanding the Initial Response
Posted 2/22/04 xxxx Reply to:

I'm looking for grooming standards specifically related to allowing women firefighters to wear earrings. I work for a west coast department and have approached one of our deputy chiefs to allow us to do this. Any SOG's, SOP's, or contract language would be helpful, along with information on your department size and area.


  Reply posted 2/27/04
  I work for a large department on the East Coast of Florida, we have just under 400 members and a great deal of females. I believe that our Rules and Regulations for our department state that females are to be allowed 1 pair of studded earrings, no hoops or anything that dangles.
Posted 1/27/04 xxxx Reply to: or

I need help with some ideas for training for the CPAT. I had no problem passing the old physical ability test (also 10-1/2 minutes long), but at this new test (2003) out of 600 applicants, 22 were women and only 1 passed. Then again, the men had over 40% failure rate too... so what's up with that?

Bummin' firechick

  Reply posted 2/5/04

I recently took and passed the CPAT. I am female and by no means particularly large, strong or athletically gifted (I'm also 35 years old). I trained by running stairs with a weighted backback (30 lbs). I ran intervals -- run up, walk down, run up, walk down. Usually eight sets.

I tested in Washington State and was told only 3 women passed. Where did you test? Where are the women failing? I've been told it's usually the stairs at the beginning or the dummy drag that fails women (and the men too). If you tell me exactly where you are having trouble, I can offer more tailored advice.

Posted 1/27/04 xxxx Reply to:

Hi, my name is Vivian. I am looking for Firefighters interested in building a part time business with air purification equipment which destroys smoke, odors, etc. Many of you are familiar with our equipment. International inquiries are welcome.

Vivian Bogul
Sr. Sales Manage

Posted 1/20/04 xxxx Reply to: or


My name is Bernadette and I'm a twenty-year-old college student in NJ. My father is a volunteer firefighter at our local community fire station, both my older brothers are in branches of the military, and I have a stay-at-home mom (who I adore). I expressed my profound interest in becoming a firefighter as a career option, especially after taking a cheesy career test in high school and having the first option being firefighter. I was ecstatic and brought the results home to both my parents.... I was discouraged because of, well, sexism; both my brothers said no. Why? Well, because they said it wasn't a job for females, and they just didn't want me to get "hurt," so being young and not having any supporters, I was at a loss, and that was the end of that.

I would have gone against the "thinking only in my best interest" family and trained at the community firehouse (where my dad is stationed), but my dad is so desperately against it.. and I can't train at another volunteer fire station because I'm not a resident... talk about frustrating. I really want a chance to see if I can do it.

So I was looking up schools and consulting with a counselor, asking if there were any academies that basically have to do with fire fighting training, as in so so months' courses campus-type deal (I guess I wasn't being realistic?) The councilors weren't much help. Now I'm finely taking it upon myself to do research online and found your site!!! If anyone has any information on academies that I could attend, I would be more then appreciative. It's not that I want to hurt my family by going against their well wishes; it's I don't want the opportunity to pass me by before it's too late. "Someday" turns into "missed my chance."

Desperately seeking advice,


Posted 1/15/04 xxxx Reply to: or

CPAT help:

Does anyone have a training program they would share with me to prepare for this test? I have a few months to train for it and limited ability to replicate the test with my own ropes and sandbags etc. I've attempted the test before failing on the stepmill and after that I kind of gave up on the idea thinking I couldn't do the job. Now I'm back in the saddle and ready to rock and roll. You can email me at


Posted 1/13/04 xxxx Reply to: or
  I am one of two females on the volunteer department. I have been the fire chief for the last three years. I have a male assistant chief. The department has grown somewhat since I have been chief. Please never think you are not capable of doing anything needing done in the fire service.
 Posted 1/13/04 xxxx Reply to: t or

I am a career firefighter in New Jersey. I was just made Safety Officer of my department. I have a lot of classes under my belt but, I am not sure if they are the right ones. Can anyone tell me what training you need for Safety Officer? Also, does anyone knows of any safety courses I could take? I am grateful for any help.
Thank you,


 Posted 1/7/04 xxxx Reply to:

I am a seventeen year old female firefighter, and have been in my department for the past year and half. I grew up at the firehouse. The "young" guys in the department are just like my brothers in and out of the house. I sometimes though do feel out of place, but never left out. To them I am one of the guys, and they are proud of it. Surrounding departments had females but they dropped after a couple of months of being teased and felt like they couldn't manage being a firefighter. Being a female doesn't stop me. This spring I am going to train to be part of our "fast" team. The fire services has changed me to be a better person and at the same time I get to help everyone in my community. To all those females that don't know if they can make it...well you can, and maybe better then the men too.

- Tricia

 Posted 1/4/04 xxxx Reply to:


My Name is Jake. I'm a Firefighter with the City of Nashua, which is just outside Boston. A bunch of us from my department, and myself run a fun little site called Strike the Box!!! Our site is dedicated to Firefighters from around the country, and their fire and EMS related tattoos!!! This is something that we have been doing for some time now, and its really taken off! Hundreds of Firefighters have sent us in pictures of their tattoos, with great pride in their art work, and their departments.

We have had a great response from women all over the country, and the pictures that we have gotten are some of the best, and most imaginative of all our tattoos! We had hoped that you might consider adding our link to your site so we can encourage more women to get involved! As you can probably imagine, our ratio of men's to women's participation has been a little one sided, and we're hoping to change that if we can! If you have a chance, please check us out at www.strikethebox.com

Thanks allot for your time!!!


Posted 12/9/03 xxxx Reply to: 

Hello, I have started a new job as a Health Science teacher at the Technology Center in DeKalb County, in Alabama. I will begin teaching 11th and 12th grade students in Jan. 04.

The class gives students an introduction to numerous health careers. I have already had interest in the Fire Service, incorporating the EMT aspect. I plan to set up Areas of Interest in my room, including one on the Fire Service, I was delighted to read the article in my husband's Every Second Counts , "Firefighting, All In A Woman's Days Work." The majority of my students are female, and I want them to learn that these fields are open to them also. At present, my walls are bare, I would greatly appreciate any information, or pictures that I could display for them.

My e-mail address at school is , or I can be contacted at school at (256)638-4211. Thanks!

Posted 12/8/03 xxxx Reply to or

I wanted to ask about the atmosphere of other women's stations. I work in a small-town department and am the only woman on my shift and one of two women in the department (the other is a medic).

I'm new to the fire service so I just wanted to know if it's common to have the guys be so... macho? It seems like all the guys are chewin', truck-drivin', meat-lovin', football-watchin' kinda guys. They've been nice to me but I feel a little like a fish out of water.

I'm at this department right now to get experience and training and eventually hope to be hired at a city department where I could work with more women. I'd like to work with people, men and women, that I share interests with, and I just wanted to know if super manly-men are typical of many departments or if it's just dependent on individual departmens. I like the guys at my department, but I feel a little like I just stumbled in on the Boys' Club.

If you'd like to share your experiences please either email me or just respond on the bulletin board. Thanks.


Heh heh ... I have asked myself the same question. I live in a pretty macho area, but my mum doesn't, and the men in her fire department are even more "manly" than ours, so I'm not sure how much has to do with where you are and how much has to do with the nature of firefighters in general. :)

I really do think it's part of the whole fire service mystique, or something. From the folks I've worked with, volunteer departments are a bit less so -- tend to have more female presence, and maybe just a more diverse membership that lends itself to haveing a wider variety of attitudes? But presumably a large department would offer the same thing -- a variety of folks. I don't know; I've only actually been in a volunteer department and worked briefly with others.

Sorry, I don't have an answer -- just a bit of sympathy!

 Posted 12/8/03 xxxx Reply to

I would like any advice or comments about possible litigation against my former fire department. I was "kicked to the curb" after my year's probationary period -- no reason given whatsoever! Apparently a woman with an education is a threat to a bunch of men without one...

Please email me through WFS.

Thank you!


  Reply posted 12/09/03

Hooray for you for being brave enough to consider litigation! I have heard too many stories about women quitting, or just plain walking away from the whole deal.

You not only have a right to know why you were let go. They should have explained it all to you. Also, if you were having a problem all along with things, you should have been notified throughout the year in writing.

If you get a good labor attorney, he or she should be able to take the case, and take money only when you win. Do not let these men get away with this.They will only pull it on the next woman too. Or just keep one from getting hired altogether.

We deserve equal treatment!

Good Luck.


  Reply from posted 12/16/03
  Contact your state's human relations commission. Tell them what happened. Prepare a statement. In order to have a discrimination case, you have to be able to prove you were treated differently. You don't need a lawyer to file a claim, but it helps. A case can be dismissed on a paperwork error. There are timelines for filing. It helps to have witnesses to substantiate your claim. If this is the first claim against that department, then pretty much the only thing that will happen is they have to show correction for the wrongdoing. But if you can prove probable cause, you may be given the right to sue in civil court. Remember, if that happens, a judge having a bad day could cause you to lose anything you may have gained. By filing the claim however, you bring their actions to the attention of the human relations commission and any claims thereafter are taken seriously, i.e. fines, etc... Should you file a claim, they will do everything and anything to to break you. They tend to get nervous about the state being involved and will want you to withdraw your claim. You have to love it enough to take anything thrown your way.

Good luck.
 Posted 12/04/03 xxxx Reply to:
  Hi. I am a nineteen year old college student, and the daughter of a firefighter. I just finished writing a paper on Women in the fire service, and found this site to be a huge help. I am hoping for a little more help, because I now have to present my paper to my classmates. I would love to hear your opinions on being a female in the fire service, for I know it is an amazing job. I also am looking for some photographs to use in my presentation for visual aid. If you have any other ideas for visual aids, I am open! Thank you very much!
 Posted 11/23/03 xxxx Reply to:
  I am a full time firefighter/paramedic and I am hoping to hear from other female firefighters regarding the decision to have children. My husband is also a full time firefighter and we are interested in having a family, but we are concerned about how our careers might affect our children and vice versa.

Specifically, I am curious about the following:

1. Environmental issues such as toxins, diesel fumes, noise, and heat during pregnancy;

2. The reality of your first trimester and working at the firehouse (being cautious with heart rates, morning sickness, etc);

3. I am currently a lieutenant and am concerned that pregnancy (and family) may affect my possibilities for promotion.

4. My husband and I work opposite schedules. Is it unrealistic for me to think we could both continue working full time for the fire department?

Thank you for any insight, resources or suggestions you may have!

Posted 11/23/03 xxxx Reply to:

WFS Members,

I wanted to let everyone know that I have moved from Walla Walla, Washington, to Angel Fire, New Mexico, to take a position as Assistant Fire Chief/EMS Director. I'm running the ALS service for the combination department here. My new address is:

Angel Fire Fire Department
c/o Assistant Fire Chief/EMS Director
P.O. Box 610
Angel Fire, NM 87710

If you're in the area, stop by to say hello :)

Julie Chase

Posted 11/23/03 xxxx Reply to

I am looking for any information from departments that have been successful with recruiting campaigns aimed at women for paid-on-call departments. You can email me directly.

George F. Esbensen - Fire Chief
City of Eden Prairie

Posted 11/18/03 xxxx Reply to or

I have been the only female firefighter on a crew of 25 men for the past six years. I have suffered harrassment and discrimination regularly from one assistant chief about two years I blew the whistle on this asst. chief and the situation has gotten worse and has expanded to some of the other men, including our chief.

I am looking for some help with how to make these men realise that women are an important part of the fire service. Please e-mail me directly or reply through this bulletin board.



Posted 11/14/03 xxxx Reply to

My name is Staci Ard, 17, and I am an Explorer/future firefighter on the Faubush Tri-County Volunteer Fire Department in the heart of Faubush, Kentucky. I have heard many men and boys say women can't handle it. Well, we proved them wrong. By we, I mean 6 other girls who are on an ALL-girl Explorer Olympic team that competes at the county, regional, and state level. So far our men's team has won first place at every event. But this year it was up to us girls to achieve first place in the Explorer division for our fire department. We worked our butts off till we couldn't even move the next morning. When it finally came time to compete, we had everyone's jaws on the floor. We won 1ST at county and regional. We beat a bunch of BOYS!!!! When it came to the state Kentucky Fire Oylmpics, we tied second with Erlanger (all boys), we did 5-person ladder run as the tie breaker. We placed 3rd in the Explorer division. In the state! Even if we didn't get 2nd or 1st, we just showed those boys that "Hey we can do this, and you never know, we just might be better than you. There's always next year" We had a lot of pats on the back. But I look at the rest of the girls, and I am proud to be a female on a fire department when it's a man's world out there, and I know that sometimes, I can out do them. Your website makes me realize that there are more women out there who are firefighters than I thought. And right on, more power to you. Keep doing what you are, and show those men that, yeah we CAN!!!!

Thank you,

Staci 1648
Posted 10/27/03 xxxx Reply to

Hi all -- I'm taking the CPAT in six weeks and desperate for advice/tips. I'm in very good shape, but I've never done this test before. Unfortunately, I'm not going to get a chance to practice it ahead of time either. For those of you who have taken it, what do you wish someone would have told you ahead of time?


Posted 10/27/03 xxxx Reply to

I'm a firefighter for Sligo in Clarion County Pa. I've been a firefighter for 3 years...My boyfriend has been one for 25 years...I really like the job...I really don't think I'ld be happy if I got paid for helpping someone in trouble...I feel that my pay is the thank you they tells us.... And the look the kids gives us when they see us.

If you know any address of paid fire dept could you please let me know....Our fire dept is doing a cookbook as a fundraiser....And I would like to make a part of the book for eatting with firefighter........I want to get recipes from them ..

Thank you,


P.S. If you e-mail me, please put "firefighter" in the subject line.

Posted 10/27/03 xxxx Reply to or

Hi. I'm doing a report on American heroes for my school. I am in fifth grade and this is the biggest project of the year.

I would like to do my report on a woman firefighter who was involved in the September 11th incident. And can tell me the first-hand story of what happened. I would like to write to this person to get information for my report.

My Mom found the name of Maureen McArdle Schulman on your website and I am interested in her. Can anyone help me find her? Please e-mail me if you can.


Posted 10/23/03 xxxx Reply to or

Came across your web site... and was absolutely thrilled to see other women out there doing this great job we all love!

I am the only female fire fighter out of 175 in our department. I have been on the fire department since January of this year. This FD has only employed one other female in its history (about 18 years ago) and it ended with her termination and a law suit against the city after a couple of years she was on the department.

I have had a "better than expected" experience with the department so far. The guys that I work with have been absolutely fantastic. It took some getting used to, but I think they have done a great job in adjusting to the fact that there is a woman in the house now!

Overall, things are wonderful and couldn't ask for a better department to work for. I still just feel completely alone when it comes to questions or issues regarding my gender and how that fits in with where I work. I wanted to know where I could get some more information and advice on different topics dealing with being the "only" one. Just a few examples: media coverage, "the wives", untrue rumors and the "old school fireman" who thinks I do not belong here.

I have worked extremely hard to do my absolute best and to prove myself to these guys. But... I feel that not only am I having to prove myself as a rookie, but more so as a woman -- which, honestly, I expected. I just need help or some advice on how to deal with it. I have befriended a few of the guys that I work with and try to talk with them about it -- but they just don't understand. Same goes for family & friends... they listen, but really don't have any advice.

Any feedback would be so much appreciated! Hope to hear from you all soon.


Posted 10/23/03 xxxx Reply to or
  I'd like to hear from firefighters who are also on sports teams. I'm just finishing training at my department and we start pulling shifts in less than a month. We work the A-B-C shift schedule with a day on, day off, day on, day off, day on then four days off. I'm stoked to start but I don't see any way around it seriously cutting into the number of
days I can practice. Firefighting is obviously my priority and I guess I'm looking to have my cake and eat it too... but I was wondering if there were any other women out there who found a way to work shifts and still play sports competitively. Thanks.
 Posted 10/3/03xxxx Reply to:

This site has been a great inspiration for me. I am 26 years old, live in the Atlanta area, and working towards a career in fire service. I am strong and healthy, but still intimidated by the physical agility test. Does anyone have any tips for me? What can I do at home to help prepare myself? Any information would be greatly appreciated.



  Reply posted 10/16/03
  Hi there. I, too, live in the Atlanta area and am a paid firefighter. I would be happy to help you out if you need it. you can post to me here or e-mail me at . Tell me a little about yourself and what you have done so far.

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