Women in the Fire Service, Inc.
Bulletin Board/Guestbook Archives
May-December 2000


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 Posted 11/29/00 xxxxx Send your reply to: nalini@jps.net or BBoard@wfsi.org

As a supporting comment to the post on 7/24/00, I recently had a conversation with someone making similar assertions about the incompetence of women in certain careers. She said that a friend of hers (who is male) who works as a firefighter in Wisconsin had said that women firefighters don't have to meet the same physical requirements that men do. He told her that women were only required to meet 50% of the physical requirements that men do in order to pass whatever tests to become a firefighter.

I found this incredibly hard to believe, but I don't have any statistics or contradicting reports to challenge her assertion that women aren't as physically able to be firefighters. I want to be able to present her with information that will support the fact that these kinds of myths perpetuate sexism and stereotypes against women which falsely position them as being less qualified to do what is typically considered "man's work".

Another woman involved in our conversation stated that women's bodies are different than men's bodies and that women are not built to be as strong as men. She made this sweeping generalization and stated facts about muscle structure and bone density. Again, I didn't have any facts to support my opposing views, but I strongly believe that these are the kinds of faulty assertions that are made to maintain inequality between men and women.

The firefighting profession was just one example that came up and I'm hoping to get some facts and figures to support my assertion that women fire fighters are just as qualified as their male counterparts.

If anyone can provide me with any information regarding these issues, I would really appreciate it!


  Reply from: SMCD511@aol.com, posted 12/29/00

This is in response to the person who wrote about the male firefighter in Wisconsin who said women did not have to perform the same test as their male counterparts. I say B___ S___! I am a driver for the fire department in Shreveport, Louisiana and have worked here for almost 11 years and I was required to do everything the guys did in my basic training class. I do concede the fact that men and women are built different, but the result is the same. If you make a fire, someone has to turn the fire hydrant on. It doesn't matter that a man maybe stronger, the end result is the same. You get water to the fire truck. In fact, I know men who pass out at fires and we have not ever had one female pass out at a working fires. We may have had some vomit, but they never actually passed out like some of them I know. Be sure to let this man know that we have approximately 25-30 females on this job and we have a Class 1 fire department. What class is his?


Stacey McDaniel

 Posted 10/17/00 xxxx Send your response to: er_tech@prodigy.net or BBoard@wfsi.org

My name is Rebecca Richardson, aka Ladyfirefighter. I am a volunteer FF/EMT and a freelance writer. I thought the above links below might be of interest to your members. The first one is to a new firefighting website which I write and moderate for. The second is to my book page, I am working on a book about women in the fire service. I really want to get more women involved in these websites!



 Posted 10/2/00 xxxx Send your reply to: the_reynolds@yahoo.com or BBoard@wfsi.org
  I am a 28 year old female from Seattle, Washington. My only dream is to become a firefighter (like my father). I've put it off way too long and want to know where to start. I currently work out regularly and lift weights 4 times a week. I am curious to know if there are any specific firefighting training programs located in/near Seattle. Any info is greatly appreciated.
Posted: 9/29/00 xxxx Send your reply to: HelenCha@student.yeovil-college.ac.uk

I am a student at Yeovil College in Somerset, England. For my final year project I have decided to hold a stall at Yeovil College to promote women to join the fire service. I have found your web page extremely useful during this project and I have looked at the suggested links. However, there is still some information I have yet to get a hold of. I am interested in finding out:

* Is the selection process the same for men and women?

* How many women are there in the fire service, especially in my area?

* What methods are used to promote women to join, if they are used at all?

Thank you,

Helen Chapman

Posted: 9/22/00 xxxx Send your reply to: blaze00031@aol.com or BBoard@wfsi.org
  Hello, all you hard working, firefighting women of the U.S.! After 16 months of our working together, the press has finally noticed that Tacoma (Washington) Fire Department has an all-woman crew and we are starting to get a lot of attention (TV, newspapers and in November, People Magazine). We need your help!! Does anyone know of another all-woman permanant career-level firefighting crew in the U.S.? We are always being asked that question and so far haven't been able to name any others. If anyone knows of any current crews, please let me know -- we would love to find another crew out
there. Thanks!

Gayle Nikolaisen
Posted: 9/18/00 xxxx Send your reply to: mfren@netdoor.com or BBoard@wfsi.org


My name is Malcolm French. I am an International Corporate Pilot by trade and over the past twenty nine years have traveled through out the United States. I am beginning the process of gathering stories for a new book. I am in search of heart warming, true life stories from Officers, EMT Personnel and Fire Fighters that, through their normal and sometimes not so normal duties and unselfish efforts have touched the life of someone in a special way. We also welcome any stories offered by individuals that have been touched in someway by these professionals. I discussed this project with my wife, who used to be a dispatcher for a Police Department and we have set the plan that seventy five percent of all proceeds of the book go into a National Fund for Families of Officers, EMT Personnel and Fire Fighters. This fund will not be just for those families of men and women who have fallen in the line of duty, but for families such as one we knew that the Officer who had four small children and lost his wife that was just thirty one. Or the Fire Fighter that was injured and could not return to his chosen line of work. In time, these families will recover, but anyone knows that additonal help is needed at first. I and my wife have six children ourselves. It is you of these fields that would put their lives on the line to help any one of them without regard to your own safety first. I feel it is time that a project as this book, and hopefully future books will aid in creating this special fund. Anyone that has a story to share can send it to mfren@netdoor.com, or mail it to 105 Pecan Terrace, Petal, MS, 39465. Anyone that has a question can contact me personally at 601-641-2131. If I happen to be flying at the time, just leave a message and I will get back to you as soon as I land.

Please foward this email to any personnel you feel would like to take part in this project. Sincerely, M. French

Posted: 9/18/00 xxxx Send your reply to: firenetty99@aol.com or BBoard@wfsi.org

I was very excited to find this web site. It is wonderful to find a support system for women firefighters.

I am a paid call firefighter for a fire department in California that has approximately 40 firefighters. I am the only women firefighter on our department.

I am a mother, EMT, fire academy graduate, and I have an A.S. Degree in fire technology. Also I have military experience as a truck driver, and numerous certifications including: haz mat, auto extrication, rescue systems 1, and wild land fire fighting. I am one of the most qualified firefighters on our department and a very hard worker. But there are still a couple of men on my department that will not talk to me, and give me an attitude. For example, after a test that I scored higher on than the other firefighters one of the guys came up to me and commented,"but can you throw me over your shoulder and carry me!" (Well, I probably could but I would much rather drag him by his feet and maybe it would knock some sense into him!)

Most of the men I have worked with have no problem working with me. But the few that have had a problem are insecure about themselves and feel threatened. I continue to do a good job and remember that it is their problem and I will not make it mine. Any women firefighters who deal with sexual harassment or discrimination, try to remember that you have a right to be there too. You, as a woman, bring some very special qualities to the fire service.

I love being a firefighter! I really want to express my appreciation to all the women firefighters who have come before me and paved the road for the women firefighters today.

Thank you and good luck!

Posted: 9/15/00 xx Send your reply to: Llarc54@aol.com
  Hi- I found this site by accident and I was reading all the posts about women fire fighters and the way men treat them. I would love more information. I belong to a very rural volunteer fire department. We only have 28 members. There are only 5 women on our department and it is a daily struggle to be taken seriously. We have one gentleman in particular that needs some education on women. This guy is only 22 years old, but thinks he is 40. Women have no place in the fire services where he is concerned. He is very condescending. If he is in command on an incident he always gives us the easy jobs and talks down to us. But when it comes to medical, he is very glad to have us. He is an EMT but refuses to touch anybody. He even made the comment recently that the women run together and its hard to break into our group. Not so, we are just very protective of each other. Some of the men have started calling us the "E" force: "E" for estrogen. So, we are designing a T-shirt for all of us with "e force" on it. (all of us are in our 40's). If anyone can send me some information about women in the fire services and the way men treat them I would love to have it.

Oh, by the way, part of the mens' problem with me is, I am a lieutenant for fire prevention and I am also head of the cadet program. I am the treasurer of our company and I have single handedly put on the firemans ball for 2 years running, I am an EMT-B and I am a professional truck driver. They really hate the truck-driving part.

 Posted: 9/15/00xxxSend your reply to: jennp@stanford.edu and/or BBoard@wfsi.org

I am a graduate student in documentary film at Stanford University. I'm in the process of developing film ideas for my thesis project and am interested in the possibility of producing a piece on female firefighters.

I was hoping I could talk with some of you about this project...what films have already been made that accurately reflect your experiences? What kind of film would be most interesting to you? Would any of you be interested in being featured in/consulting on the film (especially people living and working in California)...these and a bunch more questions...

If you have a minute, I'd love to talk.

Thanks, Jen

 Posted: 9/5/00 xxxSend your reply to: FireMom11@aol.com and/or BBoard@wfsi.org
  Hello, I am an officer in a city fire bureau. I recently tested for the position of B.C.
I need to contact a fire instructor, certified, with preferably several years experience and rank. Sorry, that is what I have been advised to do. I have a couple of questions that I would like answered, and an opinion. If you think you could help, please contact me at firemom11@aol.com Thanks.
 Posted: 8/23/00 xxxSend your reply to: FIREHONEY4@aol.com and/or BBoard@wfsi.org

Hi - I am a volunteer firefighter in New Jersey (18 years). I'm trying to research the autoimmune disease, sarcoidosis. It is similar to lupus. Most people who get it have it attack their lungs and skin. I, on the other hand, have it in my bones, muscles, joints, eyes and neurological systems. I have severe pain in my legs, making it difficult to walk, and occasional tremors and numbness and weakness in my entire body, specifically my left hand. According to my doctors (six of them) the only treatment is steroids, which I want to avoid due to the side effects.

As I browse the assorted links, I have found two references to studies done on firefighters with the disease: one in NYC and the other by the New England Journal of Medicine. I have not been able to obtain either document.

I would like to ask for your help in getting these documents, if possible and in asking your membership/readership if any of them have this disease. Any information you could supply would be of great assistance. I have also contacted the NFA/LRC for info, but have not heard back from them yet.

Thank you.

Laura A. Single
Senior Fire Instructor
Bergen County Law & Public Safety Institute/Fire Academy

 Posted: 8/9/00 xxxSend your reply to: kikikate@together.net and/or BBoard@wfsi.org
   My name is Chris Williams and I am a firefighter in rural upstate NY. I am trying to find companies that carry structural firefighting gloves and carry cadet sizes, cadet sizes have shorter fingers. Anyone having an address please e-mail me. Thanks,

Chris Williams
 Posted: 7/31/00 x x x Send your reply to: CSchmidt@glendale.co.us and/or BBoard@wfsi.org
  I am a Captain and interested in any ideas about discipline. How does it work best for you? How do you approach it? Is it effective? Do you have to write people up for insubordination? Do you have authority to discipline on your own or does it start up the chain of command? How do you handle someone who doesn't respect you? Anything else you can help me with would be appreciated. Thanks.
 Posted: 7/27/00 x x x Send your reply to: SnflwrCT@aol.com and/or BBoard@wfsi.org
  I am an 18-year veteran of a municipal fire department. I am currently involved in a
lawsuit involving sexual harassment and gender discrimination. I need to gather information about assessment centers. I would like to talk to women who have taken assessment centers or who have sat on them. I am specifically interested in what, if any measures were taken to insure a diverse panel.

Please respond to SnflwrCT@aol.com.
 Posted: 7/24/00 x x x Send your reply to: BBoard@wfsi.org

A few months ago, a local radio call-in show featured a segment on female firefighters. One of the callers, "Scott" (not his real name), proceeded to tell the host about his experience with female firefighters. Scott told of his 20 years experience in the fire service, 6 years in the military, 14 years at his present department. He went on to state that he works with 5 or 6 women firefighters presently, and how none of them can do their job, he can't trust them to do their work, none of them can raise a 24' aluminum ladder by herself, all of our state standards have been lowered to accommodate females in the fire service, whenever he gives a female firefighter a job he has to check and make sure it gets done because he doesn't trust her, and -- my favorite -- none of the female firefighters can take a 180-pound man, fling him over her shoulder and carry him out... his life is in danger. What an idiot.....did anyone hear that show?

I heard a tape of the show. I am one of the 5 or 6 women that Scott was referring to. Scott wishes he was 180 pounds; he's about 230. What we have here is a lieutenant who is now claiming first amendment rights. Scott is now detailed to dayshift, supposedly taking some classes dealing with his views on women in the workforce.

I believe in the Constitution and first amendment rights until there are statements made that directly reflect on the person's actions at work; this is conduct unbecoming of an officer. I can't tell you what happens from here, except all six women will be drafting and signing a letter to the employer and the union asking about our rights in the workplace. We don't trust this guy, and he is evil.

There are a lot of people who are very angry with this situation, fellow firefighters who proudly support the female firefighters here. Unfortunately, the big guy up front, the head honcho -- the Chief -- finds it difficult to deal with or discipline this person because his past actions reflect Lieutenant Scott's actions and statements. In fact, one of Scott's statements was, "My fire chief says if you have a woman on your team, you're one man short."

I work at a fire department that is high profile and it will be interesting to see how they posture on this. To be continued... I am looking for departments that have dealt with this type of issue; also, the legal department is looking for case history.

WFS note: To preserve anonymity, this author's e-mail address has not been posted. Send your replies to BBoard@wfsi.org and indicate whether you wish to have them posted here or simply forwarded to the author.

 Posted: 7/10/00 x x x Send your reply to: bat_max@hotmail.com and/or BBoard@wfsi.org

I am a female volunteer firefighter on a small rural department.It has always had a problem with sexual harassment which is just now being addressed.

I need legal help on a harassment problem. I live in a remote area. My lawyer told me it is out of her area of expertise and that I needed to find someone who dealt with this kind of problem on a regular basis. I hold only a stipend position as department public educator and am in the process of trying paid position. And now I may lose this position, which I found out never paid into unemployment benefits due to this harassment problem. Is there anywhere I can access in Washington State -- North Seattle and Bellingham? If it helps, our district just passed a multi-million dollar levy.

 Posted: 7/6/00 x x x Send your reply to: SLancas640@aol.com and/or BBoard@wfsi.org

I am a female volunteer firefighter at a rural department in South Carolina. I have been really shocked at the overwhelming support I have gotten from the males at the department since I joined in September of 1999. I have gotten my structural firefighting training and they were impressed that I could do as well as them.

I still get a lot of funny looks from people on the scene when they see that a "girl" is working the nozzle on a fire, or whatever. I have been told that some of the older guys in the area have commented at community functions that they can't understand why they let a "girl fight them fires." I was pleased to discover that even the die-hard guys that thought the females on the department couldn't do it stood up for us and said we were as good as the rest of them!

I LOVE what I do as a volunteer firefighter. I only wish I had gotten into it sooner. I hope that all other females in fire service find the experience as uplifting and fulfilling as I have!!


 Posted: 7/6/00 x x x Send your reply to: colleenharris_74@hotmail.com and/or BBoard@wfsi.org

I am a 25-year-old female firefighter in Australia. I would like to say thank you for a great site.

I am the only female in my Brigade, and the men treat me no differently than they treat each other. They expect me to be able to do everything just like they can, yet they know my limitations, just like I know theirs! I would love to talk to other female and male firefighters from all around the world to learn about other equipment and firefighting methods.

If you wish to contact me you may, on colleenharris_74@hotmail.com

 Posted: 7/6/00 x x x Send your reply to: ADHTMKBEAR@aol.com and/or BBoard@wfsi.org

I'd like to know if anyone can help me find out who the vendor was at the L.A. conference (and I believe they were from L.A. Fire), who had tow-hitch covers in the shape of a helmet -- aluminum-like and highlighted with red detail.

Thanks much,


 Posted: 6/30/00 x x x Send your reply to: paulah33@home.raton.com and/or BBoard@wfsi.org
I am currently a Firefighter/EMT in New Mexico. I am interested if anyone has information on departments in the northwest area of Oregon: i.e., current openings, testing, qualifications, or anyone I could contact to get this information.

 Posted: 6/22/00 x x x Send your reply to: CMM0921@cs.com and/or BBoard@wfsi.org

Hi everyone,

I am a female lieutenant in a metropolitan fire department. We as a department went through a gender-related case in which a settlement was reached before the trial was completed. In light of some of the allegations that were brought up as well as suggestions from other females not involved in the case, the Commissioner has decided to set up a series of meetings to try to solve some of the problems.

To date there are several policies already in place: Sexual Harassment and Parental Leave. The problems that seem to still exist are the bathroom facilities, how to handle confidential complaints, and successful recruitment of females to the force. This last is a particular problem, due to a small number of women taking the test and also a 10 point veterans' preference that is given (many women do not have this military background). Although the women take the test and score well, the difference in ten points can take you from being 800 on the list to 80 (with the 10 points applied)

Any suggestions on how to deal with these issues both on the short and long term would be appreciated. I have some ideas of my own, but I want to see if I'm on the right track. Any help would be appreciated.



   Reply posted 9/29/00 by firefightertaz@hotmail.com
   I am writing this in response to the posting of Coleen concerning recruiting problems and women in the fire service. I have a slight disagreement with one of the statements made and wanted to clarify it for everyone. When a person has a 10 pt vet preference it is for being disabled during war time (with a few exceptions concerning Vietnam Vets).
A 5 pt vet preference is given for serving during war time with no disability. These points are given indiscriminately to all serving their country and is not gender specific. There are many women who have the privilege of vet preference, such as myself. It is in reward for serving my country, a choice I made, just as those persons who did not serve their country consciously made the choice not to serve. Vet preference is a law and cannot be bypassed when dealing with any municipal or government job. There are ways to attract more persons from the military thereby attracting more females who have earned this privilege. You may want to try advertising at the nearest military base, in one of the military publications, or with the DOD.

As for the other problems you have with your recruiting process, though no expert, I've found a few things that have made the testing process more user-friendly toward everyone concerned. A generic Civil Service Exam that tests basic knowledge rather than FF skills is the first step. As for the physical fitness part, practice sessions to eliminate the nervousness (sometimes referred to as a pre-test) will help people realize areas of weakness. By no means should the testing process be made easier, but instead the persons made not to feel intimidated.

Another area might be to address where, when, and how openings and announcements are posted. Does the actual announcement ever reach the general public?

Face it, we are not only in a male dominated field, but more men are interested in becoming FF's than are women. This is slowly changing, but as we all know, sometimes change doesn't always occur fast enough.

Good luck and best wishes.....
Taz xxxxxxxxxx
Posted: 6/9/00 x x x Send your reply to: taracooper@netscape.net and/or BBoard@wfsi.org

I just wondered how long it took you current women firefighters to get hired? Like how many tests you ended up taking or how many years you had to test before being offered a position? Did you pass the agility tests right off or did you have to train hard for them? I just started testing and am curious as to what others have gone through to get hired. Thanks,

 Posted: 5/17/00 x x x Send your reply to: Arctica@aol.com and/or BBoard@wfsi.org
  I need people to send me examples of their 3 shift schedules, and number of hours a week worked. We are switching from 2 to 3 platoons and I am researching options. Thanks,

 Posted: 5/17/00 x x x Send your reply to: nicole@frrog.com and/or BBoard@wfsi.org
  I am the owner of a new company selling women's specific outdoor gear for recreational and work purposes. After stumbling across this site, I began to wonder what special needs women firefighters have in terms of outdoor gear. If anyone would like to send me information or requests, I would be happy to look into carry a special line for you. Thanks and keep up the good work! Contact Nicole Bailey at nicole@frrog.com and visit the web site at http://www.frrog.com
 Posted: 5/15/00 x x x Send your reply to: slnielson@excelonline.com and/or BBoard@wfsi.org

I have worked on the local county volunteer EMS crew for 15 years. One could only get on the fire department if one was a male and had relatives in it.

A long and smelly story later, we now have a new $2 million station located in a brand new development that has no structures yet!! They decided to hire 6 full time firefighters (the only ones in the county) to put out all the fires and respond to medical calls there. Only hired 6 firefighters (brand new EMTs) and said the EMTs weren't qualified (2 hired were the county commissioners' sons).

So, we took the state Firefighter I course and, much to their dismay, passed it. Now they are reneging on their committment to let us train with them if we passed. They have 4 openings but are suddenly making a physical, written and oral test mandatory -- with the oral having the most weight.

They have admitted in public meetings that they can't possibly hire female firefighters because then there would be a man and a woman alone at the station! "If the man had a weak moment...." (I'm not kidding!) Of course we can go to a lawyer and become very rich. We would like to try some nicer ways first. Two of the county commissioners are against women firefighters; one is for. The county attorney tells them to not even think such things let alone say them out loud. The male firefighters' wives are having fits over the thought (we are in our 40's, for heaven's sake!).

We welcome a physical and written test, but know darn well we could never pass their "oral" test. Any suggestions on nice ways to handle this before we go to the lawyer?


 Posted: 5/9/00 x x x Send your reply to: Redhot68@aol.com and/or BBoard@wfsi.org

Dear fellow firefighters:

After 11 years I'm tired of the political male chauvinistic dominated world of firefighting. I have been thinking about walking away from a job I really do love.

A friend suggested I do a pro/con list, which turned out to be a big project. I ended up writing down stories and doing some public speaking on firefighting. The friend has now suggested I put the stories into a book.

I have been getting numerous stories from fellow firefighters (both male and female). This has been like therapy for me. Reading the stories and knowing I'm not alone. The words of encouragement for both me and my project have been great.

I'm asking for help: I could use more stories from around the country. (no names or dept. names will be used in the project) Please e-mail me with your stories of: harrassment, discrimination, politics in the dept., how it has changed you. And stories of why you love this job: funny stories, calls, EMS, fires, jokes.

Please help. I don't know if anything will ever come of this project. But it has been therapeutic for me. And that alone has been for me worth it all.

Thanks again

 Posted: 5/9/00 x x x Send your reply to: jboersen@webtv.net
  My name is Missy and I live in Michigan. I recently graduated from college and I'm interested in pursuing a career in fire fighting. If there is anyone out there willing to share any information, advice, or experiences that they have had, I'd greatly appreciate it. Thank you!
 Posted: 5/3/00 x x x Send your reply to: juli505@hotmail.com and/or BBoard@wfsi.org
  I am a woman who will be testing for a fire department soon. I don't have access to any equipment to practice with, so I would appreciate any advice I can get to prepare for the Combat Challenge. I would especially like some input on the best technique to use for the Kaiser machine and the dummy drag portion of the test. I would greatly appreciate any advice I can get. Thank you. You can send your replies to Juli505@hotmail.com
   Posted: 5/3/00 x x x Send your reply to: Jtsafety@aol.com and/or BBoard@wfsi.orgWe are a recruiting service for fire departments in Florida. We are always questioned on what we do for minorities and women. Our testing process has been validated for these purposes and we are always seeking new ways to recruit. Does any one have any suggestions? And is there any funding to assist those who cannot afford our nominal fee? You can view our web page to get an understanding of what we do at www.esesinc.com.

 Posted: 5/3/00 x x x Send your reply to: jcunningham@auracom.com and/or BBoard@wfsi.orgHi --

I was reading some of the posts on the bulletin board, and I was wondering if there is anyone who could help me in any way or have some information that would be helpful. I am a volunteer firefighter in Nova Scotia, and have filed a discrimination complaint against my fire chief for harassment and badgering.

This behavior started after I suffered some injuries last spring (not fire-related) and asked to be relieved of some of the more strenuous duties of firefighting. I wanted to stay an active member. I could still drive, work the pumper and direct traffic; I just wanted the right to say, "I can't do this" to some work."

This request was never resolved. I continued to respond on fire calls and was careful not to get injured further, but the chief began to harass me in front of the men. I was totally embarrassed and humiliated at his hands, for silly things.

I have thought about quitting but I don't really want to. Why should I walk away from something I worked so hard to accomplish and that I enjoy? I want to stay active in the department and the community.

If anyone can help me, please e-mail me. Thank you so much.

-- Shelley

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