According to Canadian news reports, all four of the women on the Richmond, British Columbia, Fire Department are currently on leave from the job, citing workplace sexual harassment as the reason.
Two of the firefighters, Jeanette Moznik and Sandra Jansen, have filed formal complaints over what they say is widespread discrimination, including pornographic harassment and life-threatening "jokes" like interfering with their water supply at fires. The complaints also mention the suicide of Captain Jocelyn Roberts last year as indicative of conditions on the department.
Fire chief Jim Hancock says he does not believe Robert's suicide was related to job conditions, but told reporters he is taking Moznik's and Jansen's complaints seriously. But Moznik's statement says Roberts was repeatedly harassed by her male co-workers.
Jansen's complaint is before the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal, while Moznik's was filed in British Columbia's Supreme Court in August. Moznik alleges incidents of harassment that span a four-year period, including finding human feces in her boots and pants, derogatory sexual messages on her locker, and open displays of hard-core pornography in her work area.
The other two women firefighters have filed harassment complaints with their union, according to local president Tim Wilkinson.
Captain Bryce Gilfillan, who retired from the Richmond Fire Department in 2000, supported Moznik's allegations, stating that he had observed harassment "and a lot of animosity" against women in the department.
Chief Hancock said restroom facilities for women will be installed in the fire stations by the end of this month, and sensitivity training and new codes of conduct will be implemented. "It's going to be a new set of rules - rules that probably should have been in place earlier," he told reporters.
NETWORKING THE WOMEN OF TODAY'S FIREFIGHTING WORLD, AND PROVIDING RESOURCES TO HELP BUILD THE FIRE SERVICE OF THE FUTURE