On April 28th we, the Japanese fire service women's group, held a meeting in Yokohama. 92 women and 18 men attended. In the morning the presentations about the 9-11 tragedy and the result of support for FDNY were given to the participants. Our organization had created t-shirts which 8,000 Japanese firefighters bought, and donated 3,000 shirts to the FDNY. We received quite a few thank-you letters from New York. Then we watched the video "Women at Ground Zero." Toshiko Hasegawa, a WFS member, had subtitled it in Japanese so everybody could understand it. Of course all of us were moved by the women's efforts in this tragedy.
There were many stories about 9-11 which I had not known, and I found myself surprised by many of them. I am very proud of the women's actions. At the same time I asked myself, "Am I a real firefighter? Could I do the same thing if something happens in Japan?"
In the afternoon, we had three separate workshops; fire suppression, EMS, and fire prevention. I chose the fire prevention. A lieutenant of the Tokyo F.D. spoke about the fire that killed 44 people on September 1st in Tokyo. Because of this fire, the fire code has changed. She instructed us how to do effective code enforcement.
To talk with many women from the bottom of the heart gave me a great energy for tomorrow. We exchanged e-mail address and now I enjoy online communication with them. Right after the meeting, we went out to town and enjoyed cool beer!
Naomi Tomita, Nagoya F.D.
We were very happy that we hosted 110 people here in Yokohama. This is an independent and voluntary event without any official support from fire departments. It was a little surprise for me that more than half were from non-fire prevention field: 23 from fire suppression, 40 from EMS and 42 from fire prevention. This told us that the number of the fire suppression women has increased.
I attended the fire suppression workshop. A veteran male lieutenant from the Yokohama F.D. was a speaker, and we could ask him many questions without any hesitation. The first question was how to create a good relationship with male firefighters. He told us eye contact was very important. Also, small chats are a good communication tool.
The second question was about physical strength. Many women wanted to know the goal line. However, the speaker said the most important thing is self-control, keeping in the best condition, and not getting injured and sick. To do your best all the time.
I also heard EMT's talk about the skill of saving lives of babies, and about preventing back pain.
After this event, I feel women in Japan have been progressing. Small fire departments, however, don't have a clear vision for women. The number of staff of those department is small. And uniformed women are still wondering what kind of job they should do: Only fire prevention? Or get involved in fire suppression? At the same time the fire department itself has not decided yet.
I am very satisfied with this meeting. As a 30-year veteran uniformed woman, I am pleased to help young women.
Captain Ritsuko Kageyama, Yokohama F.D.
NETWORKING THE WOMEN OF TODAY'S FIREFIGHTING WORLD, AND PROVIDING RESOURCES TO HELP BUILD THE FIRE SERVICE OF THE FUTURE