Women in the Fire Service, Inc.
Bulletin Board/Guestbook Archives
January-February 2000
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 Posted: 2/15/00 x x x xSend your reply to: lainee71@hotmail.com and/or BBoard@wfsi.org

Hi --

I am 28 years old, and I live in Toronto, Canada. I have always dreamed of being a firefighter all my life. My father was a firefighter, and it's all I've ever wanted to be. Unfortunately, I have not had the confidence to pursue my dream. I begin to train and focus on trying out, but then I back down. I am constantly down about the way my life is and disappointed in myself for not pursuing my dream.

I am looking for help -- I guess I'm looking for support -- someone to motivate me, help me, educate me, etc. If there is anyone out there that would be willing to help me out, I would be deeply grateful. I need to fulfill my dream!

Thank you!!

   4/3/00 x x x Reply from: HDEANIE@aol.com

I would like to say please don't give up your dreams of becoming a firefighter. I began my firefighting career when I was 29 years old, and that was 18 years ago. I had three children ages 10, 6, and 4. I was in the middle of a ten-year marriage that ended a month after I got hired.

Of course there have been some setbacks, and I am still working on reaching my goals to become a Battalion, Assistant or Deputy Chief.

Some of my firefighter family have moved to a different area to test. There is no guarantee that you will get hired in the city you want, but more cities, especially in California, are looking for laterals, which I feel is a good thing.

I can send you some information; just let me know. I was in Toronto last August, and you have a beautiful city. I plan to return in August. Hopefully we can get in contact.

R. Howard

 Posted: 2/9/00    
  Lieutenant Kelly Becker is a volunteer firefighter/EMT in Molalla, Oregon, who was recently diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. Her family and friends have established the "Kelly Becker Cancer Fund" to help with her medical expenses. Please click here for more information.    
Posted: 2/8/00 x x x x Send your reply to: FFMom206@aol.com and/or BBoard@wfsi.org    

Hi --

I am new to your Web site. I am a firefighter in Maine, and until recently I was the only female firefighter within 40 miles.

I really appreciate the info you posted on gear fitting women. The air bottle of my SCBA always hits my helmet. I have tried everything to adjust it. Until they come up with gear for women, does anyone have ideas to make it easier?



  2/9/00 x x x Reply from: KATYCLAIRE@aol.com    


Just like FFMom, I've also had a problem with the rear of my helmet hanging up under my BA bottle. This happens in particular when I'm looking up while removing a ladder from its rack on an engine, looking up while doing ceiling overhaul and when crawling on the floor during fire attack. I've had two minor neck strains over the past couple years this way. It's a real pain in the neck! I don't know why the bottles seems to ride higher on shorter people. None of the men or the tall women I work with have this problem.

Also, I've been asked to talk to a Girl Scout/Brownie troop as a part of a "women can do anything" presentation. These are younger elementary school age girls. I've never done any public speaking before and would welcome any tips on what to say to girls this age to captivate and excite them. HELP!


  2/13/00 x x x Reply from: val@rma.edu    

Hi, Firefighter Mom --

I am a firefighter mom, too. I have four kids (grown, however).

The helmet hitting the air cylinder problem is one I think most shorter people have run into. I wear my bottle with the waist strap tight around my waist, my hips are strong (the mom stuff!) so my hips help to support the weight. On the other hand, this makes the bottle ride high and hit my helmet. I compensate for this by wearing the top straps a little loose, so when I stand straight and look up to raise a ladder,
the bottle tilts backward a little. It is by no means perfect, but it helps.

The only way I can see this problem will ever be solved is to have something written into the NFPA standard eventually. ("The firefighter's SCBA cylinder shall not interfere with the proper wearing of the helmet.")

The NFPA process can be a little intimidating, but it's really not too confusing. You can write the committee proposals for changes in the standard, and you comment on standards when they are presented for public comment. I have done this, and it is not so bad.

If this could ever be incorporated into a standard, just watch the manufacturers scramble to be the first to produce a shorter air bottle!!!


  2/29/00 x x x Reply from: Rysgram@aol.com    

I have been a firefighter on the Concord Fire Dept. in Concord NH for 16 years. I am now a Divison Commander for the department and am assigned to HQ.

When I first began my career, there definitely was no gear made for women. However, there is gear available now that has been designed around the female physique. In fact, Globe Manufacturing in Pittsfield, NH was probably the first manufacturer to do this. I was a consultant for them and field tested their first prototye for women. Our dept. currently wears Quest gear out of Colorado. When new gear was purchsed, additional measurements were taken for us to incorporate the female body.

If your helmet is hitting your SCBA, you may be letting it ride too high on your back. I don't know what you use for SCBA's, but most of them now I think are suppose to ride on your hips. I suspect you are doing what I always had to do -- snug the straps up tight so they didn't slip off my shoulders. I also found using a chest strap with the SCBA harness helpful and allowed me to lower my tank on my back without causing the straps to slip off my shoulders.

I hope the above information helps. Believe me, procuring uniforms and gear is much easier today than it was when I started. Good luck!

Sandy Hillsgrove

Posted: 2/3/00 x x x x Send your reply to: Lucy101769@aol.com and/or BBoard@wfsi.org    

Hello everyone,

My name is Lucy. I was wondering if anyone has information concerning sexual harassment in the fire service. I am looking for known cases that have been filed in the courts. I would also like to hear about personal experiences. I did hear about a female firefighter in Rhode Island who filed a sexual harassment lawsuit in Federal court against her colleagues. I am hoping someone knows the circumstances surrounding this case and the findings from the courts. Or if you know of any other cases that involve female firefighters it would be helpful. Thank you.

Posted: 1/20/00 x x x Send your reply to: syndyh@hotmail.com and/or BBoard@wfsi.org    
  As I sat watching the evening news a couple of weeks ago, the local station briefly
reported on a woman in Medford, Oregon, who recently won ($26k?) a
discrimination lawsuit. Apparently, she failed to complete the academy when
she could not pass the physical standards. The standards were greater than
those set for the other male students. Also, the news report said that Medford has never had a paid female firefighter in its history. Does anyone else have any more information about this story? I'm curious, why did she settle for $26,000?

  Posted: 1/19/00 x x x xSend your reply to: Mfdengine5@aol.com and/or BBoard@wfsi.org    

Hi -- my name is Gina, and I am a lieutenant on the Memphis Fire Department. I am working on developing a new performance appraisal / employee evaluation system for our department. I would greatly appreciate some examples from other departments, or any ideas that might be out there. My e-mail address is mfdengine5@aol.com.

Thanks -- Gina

  Posted: 1/5/00 x x x Send your reply to: tbrink66@hotmail.com and/or BBoard@wfsi.org    

My name is Tracy Brinkley, and I work for the Fairfax County Virginia Fire and Rescue Dept. I have recently been appointed as the Women's Program Officer; the only such program implemented in the Washington Metro area! I'm a little nervous but excited about making changes -- changes I hope will be of a benefit to everyone.

I would like to ask for a little assistance. As in most fire departments, our bunkroom/locker rooms are very inadequate. The average bunkroom size for women is 10x15, that includes one shower, one toilet, two beds, and one desk. I know, "waaah!," but when you have people coming in the next morning who also have to utilize his space, things start to get little too close-knit. And knowing that the men across the bay are sharing a facility three times or more that size doesn't make it any more tolerable. The whole idea of being a second thought, or being told that there aren't enough women to justify larger facilities, is really getting old.

I've read through the articles from "Many Women Strong" and "Many Faces, One Purpose," and would like to bring up the idea of converting the bunkrooms into cubicles. Ft. Belvoir, Virginia, uses this method, but employs zero women for me to ask how it works specifically for them. Also I wonder about the cost; I know they are under government contract.

Can you suggest anyone outside of our own facilities to contact for such an undertaking? Overall, our department is progressive, but there are many changes that need to take place. The ratio of men to women and the lack of funding is no excuse to just "reasonably accommodate" us. Virginia is a right-to-work state, so we don't have much voice except with the union and collective bargaining. Can you suggest sites to check regarding any legal rights we may have, to take to our Board of Supervisors?

I apologize for such a lengthy post, but I'm in need of some direction. Thanks for the time; any suggestions welcomed!

Tracy Brinkley
Fairfax County, VA

  1/19/00 x x Reply from val@rma.edu    

Hi Tracy,

I am so glad to hear of your appointment to the Woman's Program Officer position -- congratulations! I remember when Dee Armstrong held your position.

I work for Chesterfield County in Virginia and live in Front Royal. Want to get together some time for lunch? E-mail me back, and we can make arrangements.

In my county, we do not have separate bunkrooms; the bunkrooms are all co-ed, but actually it works pretty well. We do have separate bathrooms, though.

You might not get too many suggestions from the e-mail you posted, since a lot of fire departments look to Fairfax for innovative ideas. Not many counties are as progressive (or as wealthy) as Fairfax, so keep us all posted on your progress. You will probably have to be the leader in this issue!



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