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I am a LT with my fire department and have recently advised them of my pregnancy. I was given some restrictions and they immediately took me off the engine. They then told me I have to start using my sick and vacation leave. This will last me about 14 shifts. I then can get my unpaid FMLA. After those 12 weeks I will not have any benefits or pay. I can pay for my own benefits, which will cost me close to 500 a month. They stated they would assist me in obtaining another position within the county. I would have to qualify, apply, and test for whatever that position is. There will be no guarantee. I get my position back afterwards. They consider this an off duty injury and there is no light duty for off duty injuries. I have some different things I am going to try to change this situation. Does anyone have any advice or good ideas?
Hello everyone I am Sharon Owens and I am 27yrs old from the Wirral, England. I am starting my training on the 2nd May as a Fire Fighter with Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service. I am really looking forward to starting but was just looking for any help, advice and friendship from other fire fighters all over the world. So if you want to get in touch and share a few stories please email me.
My partner did go to the chief before I even had a chance to. I talked to the chief as well. The situation is supposed to be taken care of from here. Iím just hoping that Iím doing the right thing by reporting this guy and that it doesnít blow up in my face. I should never have to tolerate that kind of behavior and I do not know why some of these guys canít just behave.
At my volunteer station I have a problem with a much younger firefighter. He has had a "thing" for me for a long time and thinks its okay for him to put his hands where they donít belong. He was told that was never to happen again and for a long time it didnít. Several weeks ago at drill, he started up again. That and some other things prompted me to have a talk with our chief, I told him I thought the problem was solved and declined anything more than documentation. He said if it happens again, I donít get a say, the young man will be taken care of. I have always been accepted as one of the guys and really donít want a scandal. Especially since one of our former members, who was upset at my having more training than he, has made it impossible for me to get even an interview at any of the departments in the area because of the untruths he spread. ANYHOW, Iím afraid that if I go to the chief with yesterdays "inappropriate" touching incident with this young guy that word will get around that I complained and I'll be labeled a trouble maker (which Iím not) and I'll never get a job in a paid station. I'd love some suggestions as to how to handle this, as my partner said that he would go to the chief if I donít. I want this young man to stop being a pervert, but I also want to avoid a scandal.
I know how you feel sometimes. I am the only woman on my fire department, and there were times I seriously thought "is this really worth it?" The answer to that is something that you can only answer yourself. I finally had to tell myself that I was here to work and do what I was trained to do, not to make friends or try to fit in. Then, when I could relax a little bit, and quit worrying what they were saying, things actually got better. It will be like that, ups and downs, sometimes they are nice, and sometimes they arenít. Men are moody too. But, if you truly find yourself doubting your own self worth, no paycheck is worth that.
Good luck and best wishes from Europe!!! Never give up on becoming happy.
There are people who support you and wish you well in your efforts. Good luck. Nat
Hi. I'm a 25 yr. old female and am the first and only female on our dept. So when I joined everything I was getting was a learning experience for everyone. Our supply officer was having a hard time finding womenís boots in stock so he ordered me a Men's size 6 shoe fit rubber boots, narrow width. They fit me perfectly. As long as I'm wearing socks with them I don't experience any problems at all and I've worn them for at least 8 hours at a time. If I had to order another pair I would probably order another men's pair just because they fit so well.
That really depends on what part of the country you are in. There are some good links and good advice on WILDLANDFIRE.COM. (you won't find jobs on this site check the links, the advice can be found in the "they said" section). It also makes a difference if you want to work state or federal, for a specific forest/area or for a hotshot crew that may travel around a little more. It is a little late to be applying for full-time positions since many places are starting to staff in May.
Check your state natural resources web site too, most states have a fire season and hire at least a few Part time smoke-chasers to help out.
It seems as though you can try to give up the job (the fire service) but the job might not be ready to give up you. Every man or WOMAN can not forget how it feels to hear the call come in, grab your gear, get on the truck, and head up the street with lights and sirens blaring. I wish you luck in what youíre doing and if you want it just bad enough nothing can stop you. Remember why you wanted this job in the first place and don't forget it. GOOD LUCK!
Hey, I need help from anyone who can help me get onto or knows how to get onto a fire crew/camp crew. I went on one when I was at job corps. Please anyone.
I can't take this sitting at a desk stuff anymore. I've started going through the process to get hired for my old job, in a new location.
I don't know if I'll be hired, but I have one advantage: I'm still certified, so they don't have to pay to train me.
I'm not sure what to hope for. Getting the job would mean moving away from what's left of my family again. Staying here means spending the rest of my life at a desk.
I don't know what to hope for, so I guess I'll just hope for something good.
I can understand what you mean about "your confidence being sucked out of you." However, I believe your confidence, strength, pride, skill, love, and passion for doing the job is completely in YOUR control. No one can take these things away unless you let them. Stop focusing on others around you. You/we are team players yes but, we also have a self-responsibility to be our own and best motivation. You are your own worst enemy. At the same time you are your own best friend. Compete with yourself and no one else. Go to work to be better than the duty day before. Learn a skill faster or better than you did last training day. When you focus on being your very best you'll find a renewed sense of motivation, poise, and power within you that you didn't know you had.
I have some bad news for you, fire boots don't really fit anybody, just like fire gear. Of the 37 members in our department, only about three are happy with the way their boots feel, despite professional fitting. Leathers are more likely to fit than rubbers, but are heavier. Shoe-fit rubbers fit better than regular rubbers, but still rub at the heel and are almost never really "wide". Try putting good quality sports insoles in the boots, they help with the arch issue and make the boots fit tighter (reduces rubbing).
Also, please don't be so ready to throw the discrimination flag. It's not there to get you the boots you want; it's there to protect you from abuse. Having a '7' on your heel rather than a '5' isn't abuse.
If the boot fits, wear it. If it doesn't fit, try another one. I can honestly say that I have never, in ten years, had a fire boot that was comfortable, I don't even notice when I am fighting fire, and even when my toenails get torn off and my heels are shredded. I just focus on why I am there, not minor details.
For the record, womenís boots are the same price as men's, I have ordered them, issued them and worn them and I have not found any difference in the fit, just the number on the heel. Good luck, Jenn
I'm 5'7", 128 lbs (with my workout clothes and shoes on ;) I passed the CPAT just like the 200 lbs. guys did. So my point, I'm not convinced your frame is too small. I work out 4-5 days a week but I always have and have always been pretty athletic. I hate hearing that people say things to others that give them doubts. Follow your dreams. The CPAT prep guide (do a search on the internet) has a pretty decent workout program to follow - fyi.
I need some insight from other women in our line of work. Is your department issuing out Women's turnout boots? If so what type? If not are you still issued Men's turnout boots in a size 5 if you need a women's size 7? Would this then be considered discriminatory since they are not supplying Women with Women's turnout boots that meet the NFPA 1971 - 2000 edition but instead making Women wear men's boots that do not fit in the heel or the arch?
Hi! My name is Erin, I am 20 yrs old and live in Reno, NV. I just recently decided to change from studying to be a police officer, to being a firefighter. My problem is that I am 5'8, and weigh 130. A lot of people are saying that my frame is too small for this job, however I disagree. I was wondering if any of you could give me an idea of a good workout routine to help me get into better shape? Please email me at . Thank you!!!
I have one piece of advice: DON'T GET HURT.
If you're ready, you're ready. If you're not ready, 12 days won't make much of a difference. Don't push so hard that you hurt yourself.
Good luck, kick ass. We're all cheering for you.
Just remind them that 150 years ago arguments were made against allowing women to be nurses and teachers. 100 years ago arguments were made against allowing women to run for office. 80 years ago, people didnít want women to vote or hold property rights. 40 years ago the police "brotherhood" didn't see a need for women. Imagine if the police service today had the same attitude as many fire departments do. But they used the same arguments back then--that women were not cut out, strong enough, or of the right mindset for such a tough job as being a police officer. And from the firefighterís standpoint, average sized, non-muscled women are great in fighting attic fires and confined space fires, extrication and patient handling. Hope that helps!
It is going to be hard to whip into shape that quick, but for endurance you can do jogging with a couple of intervals where you anaerobically exert yourself. Add in some stairs too like 10-15 minutes on the revolving stairs even though it may not be in your agility you need this extra kick. Then do circuit training to get you in the mode of doing an agility since it is so close, so you need to go as if you were doing the agility with each circuit set. Definitely take the day before the agility off and possibly even do a very light day the day before you take off so your body is rested to go exert all of its energy. You can do it if you have what it takes mentally first, but once you say you cant you have already failed yourself and might as well not even do the test. So psych yourself up and go kick some butt and show them how us ladies do it.
Liz, I have one word for you, CPAT! Explain to the class that this difficult test is the same for both men and women and most men fail!
Lisa work on your anaerobic ability - sprints and interval training is your best bet.
I would like to hear more about the EEOC case you filed. You may be able to help my friend. Sally
Hey everyone! I am currently a ff, and going to school. We are having a discussion about women as firefighters this week. One side of the class is for women, the other half, is against us in the fire service. Does anyone have any ideas about how I can approach this topic, from the pro side, and kick the con's side ass? Thanks a lot! Liz
Firefighter Mom, I would really appreciate it if you could email me, I am going through the EEOC thing right now (and for the past eight months) and would appreciate any advice you could offer.
It is such a relief to know that I am not the only one who feels this way. I am and have always been (until becoming a firefighter) very confident, eager to learn, and a friendly person. My 8 years as a firefighter have left me not trusting anyone, questioning everything I do, and wondering daily if any of this is worth the trouble. Yet, I don't quit because I could not go into the private jobs and make equal money. I have kids to try and raise until they can get out into the real world and on their own.
Hello, I have been reading this board for a while, and am hoping for some advice. I have recently come back to testing for firefighter/emt (I'm currently finishing paramedic school), I plan to take the CPAT in a couple of months, and have started training for that. However, I got a letter yesterday, inviting me to an agility test in 12 days - from a list I did not know I was still on. So, I'm very excited, but also have to train like a maniac for 2 weeks. I know things need to be gradual etc. but, I feel that if I push hard but responsibly I could pass this test (it's easer than the CPAT), it would lead to an emt skills test and an interview slot given the same day. Academy starts in August, and I don't want to mess this up. If anyone has advice, or suggestion, I would appreciate it. My fitness level is decent, but I need to work on cardio. Thanks, Lisa.
This will sound silly because it is so obvious but you would be amazed how many people don't do it - Train - do lots of cardio and weights. I am a CPAT proctor for my dept. and I was so disappointed that only 2 women out of all of our applicants passed the CPAT.
I was kind of mad too since I had been on bed rest for 8 months due to a high risk pregnancy, had my baby in December-took my maternity leave, then got my ass in serious shape to get back to work and I was proctoring this in April. To be approved to come back to work I had to do a modified CPAT full gear, SCBA, on air with some extras.
I had to find time to train in between breast feeding, changing diapers, trying to get sleep, getting my other child to and from school, soccer, boy scouts, well you get the picture. What I am trying to say is you have to make the time to do it, no matter how hard it is or how tired you are. Even if you are just doing push-ups and sit ups before bed it's better than nothing.
I have to add-I really think it looks bad when women come to take their CPAT with 4 layers of makeup, mascara, eyeliner, etc. with glitter all over their body and nails 3 inches long to top it off...It just doesn't look professional.
I can't accept your apology for two reasons.
One: it appears from your message that you're not someone who has discriminated against female firefighters. (And yes, we get it from the public too.) You can't apologize for something you didn't do. You're only responsible for you.
Two: Maybe I'm bitter, but I couldn't accept an apology from anybody, even the ones who put me where I am today--out of the fire service. If every one of them suddenly had a genuine change of heart, apologized, and promised to help me get back on the job, I still couldn't forgive them.
If you're a citizen of the place where I used to work, you should be angry, too. Your tax dollars paid to hire me, equip me, and educate me. You paid big bucks to hire a firefighter who loved her job, enjoyed teaching the new folks, and was *damn* good at what she did. And, you didn't get your money's worth. All that training, all that expense, and now when you should be getting a return on that investment, I rot at a desk every day.
Don't be sorry, Mark. You've been robbed. Be very, very angry.
I am a 20-year-old woman who lives in AZ. I have been out of high school now for almost 3 years. I am also a firefighter for the armed forces and I must admit, I kind of scared about applying for Phoenix. I havenít been through any testing yet but have my written test on April 19th. If any one has any advice or helpful hints for my CPAT or interviews, that would help out tremendously! I am a little nervous because this is THE department that I would LOVE to work for. Being a military firefighter is one of the best things I do right now and I believe joining a civilian department would be just as wonderful. Thank you so much for your time. If anyone is willing to give their input you can reach me at this website or at
Sincerely, Juliann Main
I'm a DOD firefighter of six years now, five of these years were active duty military firefighting. I recently got hired as a civilian, and found out I was pregnant. What are some things I should be looking for, as in my dept in helping me to stay on. I know they can't fire me, but they are trying to push an inspector job, which in turn will make it harder for me to return to the floor. What are limitations for firefighting with being pregnant, how long should I stay on the floor? Should I still be working 24 on and 14 off? Many questions but no answers. I'm the first female firefighter here, and now I'm the first pregnant firefighter and my Chiefs and supervisors are baffled in what to do with me and what to offer me!
Thank you so much for listening.
Check Galls.com for your maternity duty pants and shirts. Also I'd like to say that not all departments discriminate, our volunteer department has a total of 17 members, 6 of which are women.
My girlfriend is a firefighter and Shelby XS gloves are too big for her hands. I was wondering what link you had for other manufactures of gloves that might fit her. Thanks for your help.
I'm glad I found this site! I need the support. Thanks!
I'm wondering if any of you female firefighters were hired on a department under a SAFER grant. It is a federal grant that some fire departments apply for to get extra money to fill positions. I was just made aware that my hometown department was issued this grant to hire three firefighters. One of the requirements of the grant is that the department seek out and hire Women and Minorities to fill these positions. I am one of three minorities on this departmentís current list. We were all given a second interview but none of us three minorities were hired. They hired 3 white men, which violates the condition of this grant. This news is now in the press, and is leaning toward discrimination of the minorities in their hiring practices. Unfortunately it directly effects me. I learned that we three minorities were deemed unfit candidates for these positions. Which is outrageous!! We are very qualified candidates who are on the current eligibility list. I have received phone calls from city council members who are upset with this and members of the press who want to interview me regarding this issue. I have also been in contact with the other 2 minorities and we have decided to stand as a united front on this. I am not taking any action until I am positive I have a case. I do not want to burn any bridges with this department in fear of not ever getting hired. Is anyone out there familiar with this grant or can anyone give me the best advise on what my rights are and what to do next. I realize that I need to step carefully on this. Do you think I should consult an attorney? I am willing to stand up and fight for my rights as long as I am sure they were violated. I would also like to hear from anyone who has ever filed a discrimination lawsuit and whether it's worth all of the trouble. You can follow the news articles on this story at KTTC TV, or Rochester Post-Bulletin Rochester, MN There has been a lot of controversy surrounding the recent hiring process.
Sincerely, Jami Rochester MN
Thank you Sharon. I think that laughing just irritates me. I think it is because I don't know why people are laughing and I want to be in on the joke and psychologically anyone that hears others laughing wonder what is everybody laughing at because if their laughing at me I at least want to give back a great retort - that I am still moving forward with my aspirations and goals. Thank you.
I wish you the best of luck and training. I am not a physical fitness trainer but I can tell you what worked for me.
I was 45 yrs old when I took the CPAT and passed. I trained by wearing a 50lb vest and carrying 2, 12lb weights on the stair master. I worked up to doing 5 min with that weight then got on the treadmill. I ran 1 min with the vest on, walked 10 seconds, ran 1 min, walked 10 seconds etc for 8 reps. Then I got back on the stairmaster with just the 50 lb vest and climbed another 10 min. Then I shed the vest (my shoulders would be aching) got back on the treadmill and ran a mile, climbed back on the stairmaster for another 15 min with no weight, then cooled down on the treadmill. This would really zap me but then I would weight lift arms and legs.
I made sure I had at least 1 day off in between workouts. That day of rest was critical. Plus I made sure to drink a high protein drink within an hour after the workout. I was very careful of my diet, lots of protein and green veggies at least 3 times a day.
I must say, I did not start out being able to do that routine. That's what I was doing when I took the test. I passed with 2min & 21 sec left over.
When I started training, I just kept telling myself, I can pass without some pain and I would just keep going. My heart rate would be pounding at 180bpm and I would have to set down the free weights and hold the rails of the stairmaster, but I kept climbing until I finished my time. Eventually I got so I kept going with all that weight and time and my heartrate was only 160 bpm. The important thing is keep pushing and eat and SLEEP right.
Finally, as much as this is painful, I have never felt so GREAT as when I passed.
I received a message from WFS about a documentary on public TV called: Taking the Heat. I looked up my own PBS station and found it was to air at midnight. I taped it to watch at a reasonable hr and it was GREAT!
I want to thank the people involved in the making/airing and publicizing of that film. My husband, daughter and I got so much from it. THANK YOU!
I too am a fulltime female firefighter, and have been discriminated against and struggled to the point of frustration too many times to count. As bad as I thought I had it, it was nothing like what some other women have gone through. It has certainly put my headaches and heartaches in perspective and given my strength when I need it right now.
One more time, Thank you!
Hello everyone, I really need some help. I am a career firefighter/paramedic and I have been on the job almost 7 years. I have been groped, propositioned, etc. through out my career and have always told the guys-no and that would end it. I realize that it's unfortunately part of the job but they would leave me alone after I would explain it was never going to happen. I am married with 2 children. There is 1 man that I work with that refused to take no for an answer and then threatened to kill me on several occasions. I have gone through the department and the union-this man was investigated, there are 50 pages of documentation, and found guilty of not only doing these things to me, but other female firefighters and civilians! The chief promised myself, my BC, and the other people on my shift that this man would never be allowed back on our shift. This was when the man was given his punishment in Jan-now as of last week since we are short staff and the offender wants to work back on our shift the chief has decided to let him come back if a position opens up. My BC is furious, I am in shock, and my shift is appalled. The merit commission and many other people still do not understand why this man wasn't fired and now my chief wants to station him back with me?! My chief states that the offender is a changed man and that any people that have a problem with it should go to EAP...I need a good lawyer please if anyone can refer me to one in Indiana. Thank you all so much for your time.
Can anyone make recommendations on the best fitting leather bunker structure firefighting boots?
I just recently watched a story on TPT Ch @ in Mpls/St. Paul. It told of the struggles that females have had trying to do the job that they love. I am so sorry about what every female has gone through as Fire Fighters. I hope that you ladies will accept my apologies for what the male fire fighters have put you through. Thank you all for the job that you all do for us citizens, it is a thankless job and you deserve the highest praise that we can give you. THANK YOU so very much.
I feel exactly the same way. I do most everything else in my life with confidence and control and when I get to work, all of the seems to go away and I am not sure how to get that back. If you find out the answer, please pass on the information. I am sure a lot of us are in the same situation. Thank you for sharing your experience. I thought I was the only one with this problem.
I don't buy it. Ran a marathon while on my period. Good luck on your CPAT.
If anyone else is wondering about boots and moisture problems, check out the Smart Wool, Fox River, or other brand of socks with similar mix of wool and cotton. I use these, and have had comfy, dry feet in boots and tennis shoes and in any situation or weather. You should be able to find them at any sports/outdoors shop.
Try eating less of a variety at each meal. I did some research on this a while back, and remember a study that showed most people who have a bunch of different flavors in there meal (like in casseroles, pizza, etc) tend to eat more because the brain doesn't get bored when the flavor is constantly changing, while those who eat simple meals (like some chicken and a side of rice and veggies) tend to eat less because the brain isn't constantly switching from flavor to flavor, leaving processing power for the "stop eating" switch! Might be worth a try for you. It sounded a little weird to me when I read it, but I have tried it and found it works. Definitely drinking more water would be good. Check out the book called "Our Body's Many Cries for Water". Good info on the benefits of drinking the right amount of water.
I couldn't tell if anyone had responded to you yet, and three "Re's" just seemed excessive!
My advice would be to apply soon and..."hurry up and wait"...that's the motto, you know! Find a local Ranger Station or really any public FS building, and someone there can get you turned in the right direction.
I worked with different Forests over the course of 3 years, and I think everyone does it a little differently. They may go through the job service provided by local government, or they may do all the hiring footwork themselves. But, I haven't worked with the Forest Service for several years now, so I think it's best to get in touch with them directly.
Nancy - I have no scientific data at all, but I've noticed that my workouts feel a little more sluggish just before my period starts. However, I usually feel top-notch by the time it's winding down. Don't know what other women's experiences are. Good luck on your CPAT. I hope you'll let us know how you do. S.
Nancy - I have no scientific data at all, but I've noticed that my workouts feel a little more sluggish just before my period starts. However, I usually feel top-notch by the time it's winding down. Don't know what other women's experiences are. Good luck on your CPAT. I hope you'll let us know how you do. S.
Thanks for posting the info. about St. Louis requiring separate facilities for men and women. I worry this "victory" means my department can blow off my requests to transfer to busy stations and specialized companies on the grounds that they don't yet have female facilities at those places. The article leads me to believe that all a city needs to do is claim it has a PLAN to gradually renovate stations. My city doesn't have two dimes to rub together and probably never will. I can't picture a new station ever being built just so I have my own bunkroom and bathroom. Am I reading this case wrong?
Everything I have read on women in athletics disputes the idea that women are physically weakened at any time by our monthly rhythms. Yes everything fluctuates, but it's always fluctuating, that's the norm. If you are in good shape and stay hydrated, unless you tend to get debilitating cramps or have something like endometriosis you should be fine taking the test any time of the month. Your muscles store the same amounts of energy, and can perform the same.
However, we all know that our mental state can fluctuate too. Sometimes we feel like we are weaker and tired around our period, but all the research I've seen doesn't show any actual performance gaps.
Your body may be different from the average female athlete, but you would have probably noticed by now if there was a loss of performance you have to worry about. Personally I try to remember that, for me, that weak feeling is all in my head around period time and then I'm prepared for it mentally, then I'm fine.
I work in wildland fire, which has a different (sometimes better) history with women than structure, but I still run into a few boneheads. Not all guys are boneheads, but these guys are more obvious so I find it easier to learn tricks around them and the ideas about women that they seem to embody.
I've had some assignments were the guys would talk down to me (even though I'd seen more fire than they) or not pass on information for a task, instead coming and doing the work themselves. I even had a guy who was whining that he was hungry (we'd gotten cut off from our supplies for a day and a half) turn down a Luna bar because it might turn him into a woman!
Well, I ate that Luna bar myself, reminded myself that these particular guys often had to do tasks twice or three times because they didn't do them right the first and that I can find tasks that needed to be done without being told whereas they could not. Women tend to have more leg strength and less upper body. I can't do more pushups, but I could carry more than they. I try to focus on my strengths to keep my confidence up and work on my weaknesses to improve as a fire fighter. Maybe I'm not perfect, but neither are they and the better firefighters are the ones who never stop working on improving. I also started hanging around with the guys that were more positive in general. If you are in training, you have already far exceeded the abilities of either your average man or woman. Now you just need to work to improve yourself as a firefighter. There will always be someone quicker and stronger, whomever you are. There is someone out there who can beat out even the fastest guys you are working with. You need to focus on improving yourself, your skills and strength. Whether you are on the top or bottom of the ladder, remember, you are still on that ladder.
A firefighter's greatest asset is her mind and all the pushups in the world won't give anyone that. Learn everything you can, on the job and off, then you will have more choices as you develop your career. Use it to take care of yourself physically too. Sorry if this sounds like a pep talk, this is just what works for me. Eighteen day out state assignments with a crew of guys on a mountain somewhere leads to a steep learning curve (no pun intended :).
I am also in MN, but I am wildland. It is my understanding though that Minneapolis and St. Paul have better track records with women than most. If you are willing to live close to the city try checking each city's website to see if they are hiring. St Paul did a test not too long ago.
That is awesome Firefighter Mom. That is really great encouragement. I am also divorced, a mom and 36. I start my training soon. I am so happy! Your enthusiasm is great and your story is sounds triumphant. I would like to hear your story and any advice you may have. If you have a chance email me at
I read somewhere that a woman is physically weaker the week before and the week of her menstrual period. Has anyone found this to be true? The reason I'm asking is that I'm taking a Tucson's CPAT a week from today, and I also just started today. If itís true, would I have my strength back in time? Thanks!
Yes! I feel like this often. My self-esteem has taken a huge hit since joining the fire department. I discuss it with my husband all the time, and he has offered a little insight. He was like "welcome to the club". Men are not socialized to be supportive of each other. A lot of the guys are probably having a lot of the same feelings you are having, they just handle it differently or cover it up with false bravado. I cope with it by seeking out people who are positive--they are out there. Hang in there.
I am sorry to hear this is happening to you. I hope it gets better for you. It is good this website is here for you to get some support. I am not a firefighter yet but I look forward to it one day and I realize that men can be difficult at times. Women are from Venus and Men are from Mars or it is it Men are from Venus and Women are Mars oh I get so confused sometimes :) Keep a sense of humor it may be the only thing to pull you though it all. Take care. Keep a smile.
I kept having this problem where I couldnít pass the feats test that I KNEW I could pass and which I had already passed. By accident on the last time I took it, I had to bring my daughter with me. She followed me the whole test cheering some and mostly watching. Other times I had failed in front of the guys, but there was no way I could fail in front of my daughter. I passed that day, beating about 1/3 of the guys in their times. I realized I was using the wrong motivation. Another male firefighter pointed it out to me that night. He said, "A lot of men are motivated by competition and winning. Women are motivated by other things." Find what motivates you and find something unrelated to the guys. I keep a picture of my daughter and my great grandmother now and when I do feats tests and other things, I try to visualize both of them following me. THAT may sound stupid or at least sappy, but it's much harder to fail in front of people you love than it is to fail in front of "the guys." So, in short, just find something besides the clock or the other guys to motivate you and visualize it the whole time you are performing the things that are giving you trouble right now.
Tia, the sooner you get over worrying about what others think of you the better. In my experience, the guys making the most noise are the ones that have the weakest skills. I just keep asking questions and some times I get laughed at, but I have continued to promote through the ranks and the guys who have done the most laughing are still just firefighters. I just promoted to captain (paid), so who's laughing now? This job takes the courage and it's not always just at the fires. It takes courage to come to work every day and truly be your self. Please have the strength to keep asking questions. There are no dumb questions. This job is about team and contributing to others and letting other contribute to you. I know you're great so just keep charging ahead.
I know what you are saying Iím in a fire academy right now and Iím the only female and I constantly have to pump myself up because Iím not as fast as the guys or strong as them and its disturbing. As far as training, I have the same problem they tell me you will get the hang of it one day it takes time and the other guys get right away. I hear what you are saying believe me.
You sound like you are well qualified. If I was you I would approach the departments that you have tested with and ask them how you could have tested better or been more qualified. A lot of departments will tell you that they canít talk to you about your scores or any specifics on the tests, but they should be able to give you an idea of what they want and you donít have. Hopefully it's not just a matter of them not wanting women. If so you wouldnít want to work for them anyways. Keep working hard and it will happen.
No way are you too old!! I have just graduated from the Fire Academy and I'm 46!! I'm divorced and after winning an EEOC case against my hometown for not hiring women, I joined a call dept. one town over. They sent me to the academy and I just graduated. I have passed the written I/II certification and am now on to the non-fire practical. I love this job and I also work the ambulance as an EMT. I did that while going through my divorce. You can do it and you will love it!!!
Firefighter Mom ;-)
In St. Louis, MO we can work light duty during the pregnancy.
Victory for 2 women in Kansas City Fire Department in the 8th district Court of Appeals!! Check out todayís St. Louis Post Dispatch. www.stltoday.com
8th district court of appeals ruled on this yesterday 3/24/06, article in St. Louis Post Dispatch www.stltoday.com
Be aware that everything you do reflects on women firefighters as a whole. If I was you, and I think you are leaning toward this way of thinking, I would continue to train at the all-male station until you feel comfortable in that environment. Regardless of where you are, it is a male-dominated profession, the sooner you get used to it, the better. On the other hand, you can learn a lot of tricks from other women firefighters. There are plenty of things you can learn to compensate for differences in your body make-up, and you can usually only learn these tricks from another woman or teach yourself, like the majority of us had to. Emotional support is nice once in awhile, too. I would definitely connect with some of the women at the other station, is there any reason you can't attend their training, too? Don't present it as a female issue, just that you want to get as much training as you can, even if you have to do the same class twice. In the last ten years I have attended training with more than 20 different departments, most of the time the classes are all male. You really do get used to it. Some of the women reading this are going to cringe, but being 'one of the guys' is a very effective way to get good training. Never say "I can't", and NEVER ever skip a difficult portion of the training because you are a girl, and ALWAYS keep up with the men, pass them up if you can, but don't make a big deal about it.
If you want to talk, feel free to email me (put WFS in the subject line so I don't Spamify you) at
Does anyone ever feel real pumped up and energized and then you go to work or training and it is as if the men there suck the confidence right back out of you? That is how I feel and I donít know if other women feel this way. I do not like it and what do you do to put it to the side, because it is affecting my performance since I am one of the only women in my department. I go to drill and I feel good and then I get there and its as if I can't do the things that I have done a million times, and I leave hating firefighting, but when I am not there I am happy and energetic and love firefighting. I donít know what to do and if anyone has any type of advice I am willing to take it, because it is like a never ending battle that started a year and half ago with my fire academy. Itís like you get either beat down or something else every single time.
Thanks Marley for a 'shot' of reality of being a firefighter. This information is always helpful. (I think the part about being woken up 10 or 100 times for automatic alarms or fender benders or indigestion...really makes me go WOW!) How many aerial rescues do you usually do? Thank you.
Bravo! From one fire captain with focus to another. We need to start seeing the bigger picture. Stay safe and keep telling your story.
Wondering if any one from WFS will be attending FDIC in Indiana at the end of April. Like to set up a night we can all get together and network. If anyone is interested,
To answer some of the things you've said:
1. I can tell you how you can wake up and go to a job that you hate. It ain't easy. I oversleep every morning. I'm late every day. Every night I lie awake thinking about it. Every day I look back to my days firefighting and know that the worst duty there was better than the best desk duty here. You do what you have to do.
2. I know what you mean. I hear sirens go by and I know I should be there. It hurts.
3. It's good to be motivated. Stay focused on what you want. It's the only way you'll achieve it.
But...Don't just learn about how to do the tasks the job requires. Learn those, but also learn what the job is about. Talk to people who are doing it. Try to find firefighters or officers who will take you seriously. Learn from them.
Don't believe everything you see in the movies. Yeah, it's exciting. Sure, it's dangerous. Yes, you get to help people. But for every minute that you spend running into burning buildings, there are hours and hours of sweeping floors, polishing apparatus, cleaning the bathrooms and washing dishes. And waiting. And studying. Learning never ends--there's always more to know.
For every time you get woken up at three in the morning because there's a fire or an accident or a heart attack, you will get woken up 10 or 100 times for automatic alarms or fender benders or indigestion.
If you know these things going in, you won't be disappointed.
If you learn more and you decide that maybe it isn't for you, don't be ashamed to say so. The job isn't for everybody, and there's nothing wrong with that. If you learn more and like what you hear, go for it.
And you can fall asleep next to a husband, but probably not every night. I know departments where you'd work one 24 hour day out of three. You'd be home two nights out of three. And I know others where you'd work three days, have three days off, work three nights, have three nights off. You'd be home nine nights out of 12.
But you have to be sure there's someone to be home with the kids on the other three nights. And other people don't always do what we'd like them to do.
Jessie, do what you know is right.
It's possible that what you did wrong was to be born without the "proper" hardware.
However, given that you are stuck being a member of the superior sex (wink), you have two choices:
1) Hang in there.
2) Give up.
I'm all for "Hang in there," myself. Check other departments. Look at state or federal jobs.
Ask what you're willing to give up. Will you move away from home? Could you put up with a long commute? Would you be willing to go military?
Check out other local departments. Are there any that already show signs of diversity? Talk to women on those departments and ask them how they're treated.
You've got the training (but don't forget hazmat!) and apparently you test well. You'd probably be a good fit somewhere.
If you give up, give up because you've got something else you'd rather do. Please don't quit because it's difficult to be hired.
MarleyIt's possible that what you did wrong was to be born without the "proper" hardware. However, given that you are stuck being a member of the superior sex (wink), you have two choices: 1) Hang in there. 2) Give up. I'm all for "Hang in there," myself. Check other departments. Look at state or federal jobs. Ask what you're willing to give up. Will you move away from home? Could you put up with a long commute? Would you be willing to go military? Check out other local departments. Are there any that already show signs of diversity? Talk to women on those departments and ask them how they're treated. You've got the training (but don't forget hazmat!) and apparently you test well. You'd probably be a good fit somewhere. If you give up, give up because you've got something else you'd rather do. Please don't quit because it's difficult to be hired. Marley
You are definately not too old to start. I started my fire academy a few days before my 29th birthday. I was the oldest one in my class, and the only female. We started with 25 and graduated 7. Oh! I am also a single mom. If I can do it you can too!!!!!!
Hey everyone I just passed the CPAT this Friday I am sooooooo happy. I took the practice twice and did the second practice only 2 days before my Test date. So I proved all of those men who say us women cant pass it wrong and I did not even do any different workout for the CPAT or anything. We can all do it, it is all in our heads if we tell ourselves we can't do it then we have already failed ourselves and told our bodies that we can not do it. Good luck to everyone else who does it. =)
Almost all federal (forest and park service, etc) wildland fire jobs are advertised on the website www.usajobs.opm.gov - click on \"series search\" and then put in 0462 as the series. You can narrow the search by state and GS level. New recruits are usually a gs-3 (or gs-4 if you have a college degree or some experience). Most of the jobs require an on-line application through a web program called AVUE. The instructions come up when you click on a job listing and they are pretty self-explanatory.
1. In AVUE, attach a separate Word file of your resume as well as filling in the boxes about education and experience.
2. Call the contact number for the job, find out who is hiring, call that person and tell them about yourself and your interest. Arrange to meet them in person, if possible. Personal contact is often what gets someone hired. This is a little late in the hiring season, but there are still some jobs to be filled for this season. Keep trying, and good luck!
Wow you guys are all so supportive of each other. It's really cool. I want to be a firefighter for many different reasons:
1. I don't understand how people can wake up and go to a job that they hate and you can tell they hate it;
2. I really want to help people and every time I see a fire truck go by I just wish I was going with them to help those people;
3. I am a very motivated person so when I get an idea in my head that I want something I will not stop until I get it, and right now to be a firefighter is what I want.
I have not been on this message board for a while and so I feel bad for just leaving, but it is Lent right now in the Catholic Church and I gave up electronics so I guess I am cheating being on here, but I consider this important.
I was also wondering how some of you ladies are/were raising a family and being a firefighter because I want both I want to be able to have children and fall asleep next to husband and live like that but it does not seem possible doing both.
Thanks for everything and I will try to write back later.
I am a 29-year-old woman from MN. I have applied and tested for many departments. I have always done well on the written and physical tests. I also started getting interviews last summer. I have ff 1 & 2, EMT and am working on my Paramedic license. I just had a second interview with my hometown department, I was 40 on the list of 50, but they gave me an interview based on my minority status. I have worked for the dept before doing public education work. I know they interviewed 12 and are hiring 7, I thought I had a really good shot, but today I found out I didn't get picked! I've been so ambitious at this I don't know what else to do. I keep reading articles where I have tested and passed that say they want to hire women but not enough qualified test. I know for a fact this isn't true. Any advise for me? One dept I scored a 90 on the written and a 90 on the physical, but no interview, and they printed an article saying how they are trying to be diverse. Are there certain depts who actually want to hire women more than others that I should try?? Jami
I am not a firefighter, but I am aspiring to be a firefighter and I would like to comment on your last paragraph. I am married with two children and I don't see a career as a firefighter any different from a career that involves occasional business travel. That is how I view it.
There are hundreds of Americans and individuals overseas that travel in their career. I just think of the sacrifice the military personnel make: they are sometimes gone for years at a time. A few nights on and a few nights off for the fire service sounds fabulous, and you're doing something you enjoy.
Also if you work close to home, your family can usually come to visit you at your station. Every station is different too as far as the work schedule. There is sometimes the option to work volunteer, part time and other adjustable work schedules for new mothers and mothers with small children.
Much support and honor to all you female firefighters. Live strong and keep smiling. Prayer for the children of the military personnel. Little hearts. Best Wishes and Good Luck with your decision.
I found an excellent website that has a training program that was developed specifically for the CPAT. It is very helpful. The website is www.floridafirejobs.org.
I have been harassed also. I am a 16 yr. old Junior Volunteer Firefighter. It has been a struggle for me. I have been screamed at because I am doing what I am doing by other members. I'd like to have some advice on what to do. I am going to college to become a professional. Every guy on my dept. I told just laughed. I want to prove one guy wrong. That I can be better than he is, help me please.
Simple. As you pull on the rope, before you reach to grab more, step on the rope. Make sense? There is no rule that says you can't. I don't care how small/big you are you can hold that rope all day long. I'm sure you are using all your strength, that's great. And part of it is strength, but have you ever heard that phrase "work smarter not harder"? If I didn't explain it well enough, let me know.
I am an AF firefighter too, civilian, and a mother. Have you thought about being an Inspector? That would keep you in the fire service and you could be home every night with your family.
Sorry to hear that you are getting harassed. I have been a career firefighter for 7 years. During my first few years I experienced a lot of harassment. I know what you are going through. I worked my butt off to get there and then with all the harassment I got to the point where I just couldn't take it anymore. I used my chain of command and nothing got better. My advice to you is this: DON'T QUIT! It will get better. It did for me. Yes, it took years but it was well worth it. Now I have zero problems! Also, for legal reasons, keep a log/journal of everything. I mean everything: what happened, who, date, and time! If I can be of any more help to you or to anyone about this sort of thing please let me know. I went through this for years, I have so much experience with it it's ridiculous.
I used mens Dickies. They were perfect. No altering needed.
Hi Nancy D.
I want to thank you for your encouragement. When you wrote to Jessica and mentioned your height, you encouraged me. Made me feel better about my height. I am 5'2. I agree with everything you said. Strength and endurance are the key to being a great FF.
Check out www.campblaze.com. I think it will encourage you and motivate you more toward your awesome goal of becoming a firefighter.
Camp Blaze is a pilot project sponsored by Women in the Fire Service, a national nonprofit organization committed to maximizing women's involvement in the fire service.
I believe the age requirement is 16 to 19, but it something to shot for. I am 36 and looking at this website encouraged me. To bad I can't attend the camp, but maybe someday my daughter will. We lead by example. I support you and your decision. Go for it!
Thanks Amanda, You've helped me solidify my decision on the Danner Fire Line 18000. I wasn't told that gore-tex isn't approved, so I'm glad I asked. Appreciate it!
Congrats on becoming the Fire Chief!! I'm sure you'll do a great job. Being Fire Chief does take some getting used to at first. I am kind of in the same situation. I have been in a volunteer fire dept for 6 years now and this past December, I was elected 2nd Ass't Chief. I went up through the ranks as 2nd and 1st Lieutenants, but decided to run for ass't chief instead of Capt. Many of the guys are behind me and voted for me and I even ran against another guy. At first, I was almost afraid to give orders and have others do things. I'm the kind of person that helps out and doesn't like watching. Unfortunately, as a chief, there are other things we need to be doing and we have line officers to watch over the members. I'm still learning how to be an Ass't Chief, but it is getting easier. If I am in a situation where I'm not sure of things, I grab one of the past chiefs to assist me. I'm lucky to have some really helpful guys in my dept.
One piece of advice, don't let the title go to your head. There are many guys in my dept that think once they are a line officer or have a title, they don't have to do anything and can just boss people around. It doesn't go that way...especially in a volunteer dept. You will make many people pissed.
Good Luck to you!! I'll be glad to share any other learning experiences as a new chief!!
I support you 100% :)
I know it's hard to not pay attention to them laughing, but just keep plowing ahead and you'll do great. So what if they laugh? Let them. When i was your age, if I told people I wanted to be a firefighter, I also know they'd laugh at me. But now when I talk to people from high School and they find out I'm a firefighter, they think it's cool.
Trust me, you don't need to be skinny to be a firefighter. I know I'm not! I'm not big either (5'1", 130 lbs). You just have to be in good shape. If you are too skinny and don't eat right, then you won't have any strength. I used to have an eating disorder, but now I'm in control of it. And whenever I feel the urge to go back to my old habits, I think of how that would affect my performance as an EMT and volly firefighter. My duty to others is more important than fitting into those size 2 jeans now.
Have you looked into the explorer's program? It's sponsored by the Boy Scouts of America, and it's a great way to get a head start in the fire service.
Just follow your heart and dreams!
Hello ladies. I am 46 years old, mother of 8, 19 grandchildren, 3 great-grandchildren and my husband and I are volunteer firefighters for a small rural area in Midwest, IL. We train every Thursday and I love every minute of it! I have been on this particular department for 1 year and previously was a dispatcher for 11 years at another volunteer department. If you want to do it....go get it girls! This is a great site by the way.
I am glad that you are excited about a possible future with the fire service. Here are a few suggestions that might be helpful for you.
Ask your local Fire department if they have any programs for people who have an interest in the fire service but are still too young to apply for the profession. Also, ask if they have any kind of ride-along program where you can ride as an observer. Be forewarned, you may not yet meet the age requirements if they do. This will help you see what the fire service is about. It may, or may not be, what you expect.
Next, everybody has some body fat. Your body needs some fat to function properly. You will need both strength and stamina to become a firefighter. Consider talking with a personal fitness trainer, school sports coach, or P.E. teacher for advice in training. There are many good fitness books and magazines available to learn from as well. Choose one that covers healthy eating choices too. Even though you are young and probably healthy, consulting with your family doctor is always a good practice prior to beginning a new and significant exercise program. Set yourself both short term and long-term fitness goals and make sure they are realistic. Periodically, re-evaluate your progress and trouble points.
Next, it is good to have determination, but don't think that all men will try to get in the way of your dreams. Some probably will, and others won't, but keep in mind that you will be working side by side with many more men than women in the fire service. You have to be able to work as part of a team, regardless of gender. It is not an easy road, but it is worth traveling.
Finally, you are young. Your passions may change over time and there is nothing wrong with that. If you do become a part of the fire service, make sure that you do so because it is truly what you want and not just to prove to others that you can.
Good luck to you.
You do not have to be skinny to be a firefighter. In fact, having muscle helps a whole lot.
Why do you want to be a firefighter?
What's the best way to get on a Forest Service hand crew? I'm a former state wildland firefighter.
Hi, Iím Lena and Iím 16 years old now, but when I was 14 I also decided on my career path. I didnít do much then, but now I research and Iím applying to several youth programs. But I am behind you 100% cause us girls have to stick together. I think that this gave me courage when I started researching it. Good luck and I wouldnít worry about weight if I were you. Iíve never experienced someone laughing in my face like that before, but I havenít told many people cause I know they will never understand. Please email me at .
Hi, Iím a 16-year-old female from Tracy, CA, and Iím not sure how to go about my future and my dreams. This is the only thing I ever really wanted and Iím not sure if I can do it alone. I know my family doesnít think Iíll go through with it, but Iím going all the way, I want to apply for a position to be a student clerk, but Iím afraid Iíll make a mistake. How do I go about this???
Iím really looking forward to any responses you have.
Thanks Nancy, I do believe my portions are way too big and I am trying to cut back and I am increasing my weightlifting...slowly but surely. Thank you so much.
Donít let anyone tell you that you cannot do this job. I am a 42-year-old female still on the engine after 15 years. I am 5'8 and weigh 130 pounds. People still laugh at me when they find out what I do for a living. I love my job and have always wanted to be a firefighter since I was 8 years old. I didnít listen to all of the negativity. You can do this. Itís not easy. Itís going to be a long hard road. But, if you want it bad enough, It will happen. You donít have to be skinny to be a firefighter. You have to have stamina and persistence. You have to want it more than anything. Please keep up your dream. Donít let others discourage you. Your sister in fire, Kim
I am a Fire Chief on a volunteer department. It is a lot of work. If your husband is also on the department like my husband is, if reprimand is needed for him, let the Asst. Chief deal with hubby. This way it is not a conflict of interest. People will push your buttons, but you have to be fair in all cases. Be sure to follow any sop's or by-laws you have. FF will try to get you to do things their way. Being the Chief is not bad. Takes a lot of time. I have been the Chief for 4yrs. I started as a ff and moved through the ranks. Stay strong and anything you do, do for the good of the Department. I have taken my child with. I have a car to go to the scenes some ff donít like kids and have a problem with it. He stays in the car on scene, I am training a dog for arson so it goes also. GOOD LUCK TO YOU. Our Chiefs spot is elected I am not sure if I want to run again. I like it but I am also a career ff for a big city so this is something I need to decide. If I can help you in anyway contact me.
Hi! Just want an opinion or two. If you are in training but not a volunteer yet, Is it ok to visit at your local fire station to watch what they do and ask questions? I love being at the fire station! They are very welcoming and enjoy visitors. I just don't want to visit if it is inappropriate or immature. Thanks.
Wow Nancy it sounds like you are doing a great job to get ready for the CPAT. When I was preparing for it I took a rope and tied weights on at one end. I could simulate the ceiling breach by holding on to the rope and thrusting it upwards in front of me. I never figured out anything for the ceiling pull. I usually did 3 sets of 15 reps. For the dummy I used an army duffle bag and put 160 lbs. of sand in it. The duffle has straps that you can hold onto to drag it around. I got the bags of sand at Home Depot. I also set up a simulated CPAT course in my yard and wore the 40-pound vest while going through the course. I did that 2-3 times a week in conjunction with the other workouts. I really strongly advise you to work on being able to do the step machine with the 75 lbs. Lifting weights and running are great and by all means continue to do them, but I very much suggest focusing on specific CPAT tasks. I wish you nothing but success on test day!!!! By the way, all my training paid off and I passed CPAT on my first try and am now a career firefighter!:)
Hello everyone. I would like an opinion from anyone. I applied to be a volunteer at my local fire dept. There are no women at the one I applied at. I found out later there are few women at another fire dept down the road from me. (I am about the same to distance to both.) Since I already applied at the dept without women I would have to ask the Chief if I can switch to the other dept if I desire to after my training. I know I should wait until I am approved before I start thinking about all this but the time is near for them to get my app back. I am not sure if it's wrong to do this or not since all I want to do is be a volunteer fire fighter. I would prefer to be around at least one other woman while learning. Should I just stay at the dept I applied at and put my time in, get experience and then based on my own personal experience and not the local opinion change later? Thatís what I am leaning towards but not sure and would like advice. I don't want to look like I am complaining. A FF is a FF. I just would like learn from other woman also. Nothing wrong with that. I want to point out that I believe I will be able to volunteer with the other one with woman just not belong to that company. Let me know what you all think.
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