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RE: Weight concerns — 03/10/06

Cutting back on sugars should help, like the kind added to food as in cereals, etc. Natural occurring sugars like those found in fruits is fine. Perhaps also try eating more protein, as it helps build muscle, and the more muscle you have, the higher your metabolism. I've had some friends who are vegetarians and they have a hard time trying to get enough protein in their diets.

Good sources of protein are fish, chicken, and other lean meats as long as they are not breaded and fried (adds extra calories). Also cottage cheese is a good source of protein. Eat plenty of veggies and have fruits in moderation.

Instead of 3 full meals a day, try eating about 5 small ones, that also may help boost metabolism, and try not to eat anything a couple of hours before you go to bed, because otherwise you won't use the energy you ate and it'll convert to fat.

What kind of working out do you do? Working out with weights is a great work out, again because you build muscle and muscle requires more energy and protein to sustain so it boosts the metabolism.

Also think about the portions of your food. I love to eat also, and sometimes I'm just shocked at the serving sizes. They seem so tiny for the amount of calories! Well, I hope that was of some help. If you have any more questions, just ask!

Nancy D.

Need CPAT help! — 03/10/06

Hi! I'm taking a CPAT in Arizona in about 4 weeks. I have been working out (weight training, cardio) for a couple of months. I think I should do ok, but does anyone have any tips or advice? I'm already a volunteer firefighter, so I have access to pretty much every fire related thing except for the dummy.

I suppose it may help if I say what I do for workouts, and then maybe it'll help. I work a day on, day off, on, off, on and 4 days off. On my days off in between work, I do weights and a stair step machine. On the 4 days off, I do weights 2 of those days off and the stair machine all 4 days. I have a weighted vest on while doing the stairs and am currently up to 40 pounds (I add 5 every other workout session) and go for about 11 minutes. I'm also starting to run as well.

I practice the hose drag and pull (in a grassy area, so I'm guessing I get more resistance), have an 8 and 12 lb sledge hammer and a nice dead tree stump to hit, have some saws on the pumper truck to practice carrying, ladders to raise and extension ladder to practice on and the maze shouldn't be a problem as I'm small and not claustrophobic. What can I do for the ceiling breach and pull? As I mentioned before, we don't have a dummy, but my husband is going to rig something up for practice.

My husband is also taking this CPAT, so he's a huge help, but I'd like to have help from other women who have experience with it. Any help or advice would be appreciated! Thank you!!

25 days to go!!!!

Nancy D.

Public Education — 03/10/06

Howdy, folks!

I am in the process of researching what other departments do in regards to student public education ("Learn Not To Burn"). If you would please send me a blurb about what your department does (or doesn't do), if engine companies are involved and in what way(s). Also, I'd like to know what curriculum your department utilizes. If you have a Public Education contact person, please send me their information. I am trying to gather this information from several departments.

Thank you in advance for your help!


Oh, by the way, you can email me at or at . Thanks in advance for your help!

RE: Firefighting boots — 03/10/06

Hi Jess,

I am a squad leader on a Forest Service initial attack hand crew. I don't believe that gore-tex is approved for the fireline. I recommend leather, non-insulated boots with Vibram soles. West Coast has a factory in Scappoose, OR where their boots are handmade, and a website. White's, Nick's, Buffalo's, Danner's, and Redwings are also good. The price ranges White's usually at $350 to Redwings sometimes at $150. I like the way Wescoís (West Coast) wear, but they are about an inch shorter than the others on the upper, and this has compromised ankle support for me in the past. Wescoís are pretty easy to break in, as are White's. White's are considered the best, but they are very expensive. I currently wear Buffalo's and although they are harder to break in, they wear well now. Also, when you first get your boots, soak them in water overnight, and wear them until they dry the next day. This will give you a custom fit. When they are dry, grease them will with Obenauf's Leather Protectant (made by a wildland firefighter, it works best when heated, as your feet often are on the fireline!).

Good luck and be safe out there!


RE: Being a Fire Chief — 03/10/06

Continue to rock. You'll do great.

Pregnancy and firefighting — 03/10/06

Hi, I have been trying to find information on the health issues surrounding pregnancy and firefighting. Haven't been having much luck in finding solid medical information, just a lot of opinions and speculation so far. I was wondering if anyone has any concrete information or knows where I could go to find it?? Also, if anyone has pregnancy policies that have already been implemented in their departments and wouldn't mind forwarding them, it would be greatly appreciated. My e-mail address is . Thanks and stay safe out there!!


Note from WFS staff: A good starting point is the information on our website.

Firefighter — 03/10/06

I am only 14, but I really want to be a firefighter all my life, but people just laugh in my face! I have been working out for a while now but I still have some fat on my thighs and stomach... but I donít want to become anorexic just so I can be a firefighter. I also will never let a man in my life to get in the way of my dreams. I just want to know that I have people that support me because no one else does.



RE: RE: I'm getting prepared — 03/08/06

Thanks for the advice. To be honest, I'm just nervous that I won't be able to make the cut. I am preparing myself best I can for the physical and written test. I think that it worries me because I witnessed first hand what my boyfriend went through and how long the process took. I guess I'm just not that patient. I have gone to Tupelo Fire Dept. web site and reviewed rules and regs. I also have access to my BF's handbook. But to reassure you that I DO want to do this, I have my heart set on it. There is no turning back now! I have talked to several captain's, firefighters, and chiefs, they all agree after talking to me that I should go for it. I'm glad that they have been supportive of me (so far). What got me interested in the first place, is that it looked so exciting. Don't get me wrong; I know there is a WHOLE lot more that comes with being a FF than just excitement. I believe that I would be a good FF, and I think that I could climb up the rank ladder pretty quickly. I admire all of you women that have succeeded in becoming a full time FF. And to those of you trying to be one, like me, good luck and work hard!


Firefighting boots — 03/08/06

I will be working as a wildland firefighter for the first time this summer. I'm looking for a good pair of boots and am at a toss up between uninsulated or insulated. It seems that the gore-tex would be good for it's "moisture wicking" qualities. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks, Jess

Being a Fire Chief — 03/06/06

Hi my name is Gloria I am 32, married and have 4 kids. My husband and I are on a volunteer fire dept and I love it a lot. There are times that we do bring our kids with us, but we always make sure the conditions are ok. What I mean is, if it is a bad fire are something like that we make sure a family member comes to get them.

I got fire fighter of the year for 2005 that was so cool. I am about to become the fire chief, I am nervous. I was just wondering if anyone has any advice for me.

RE: RE: Mother — 03/06/06

Thank you for your response I appreciate that information very much. I am hoping to involve my children in my career choice as much as possible and my husband. I want it to be something that they support me with and be happy for me and not resent the fire service. Thanks for the wonderful suggestions.

Warmest regards,


Weight concerns — 03/06/06

I am a big girl and I have no excuses, I like to eat but I also like to workout. I try to cut back portions, I eat a variety of foods but I am concerned that the weight could possibly slow me down. I will be 36 in a few months and I have a tummy left from kids. Any realistic suggestions? I am trying work my butt off so I can enjoy my food. I stopped drinking alcohol and I am considering being a vegetarian but that is not going well. Any suggestions welcome...maybe more water I love diet-carbonated drinks. Please help (self control?)

Weight stress


RE: Pregnancy and Full-Time FF's — 03/06/06

We have a light duty policy that was used. It was my choice to come off line during the pregnancy. I was off for 8 weeks after due to a c-section. I have had 2 children since being on the job. If I can be of further help, let me know.

Questions?? — 03/06/06

It is sometimes hard for me to ask for help because I like to figure stuff out for myself and I was taught to try first to avoid looking totally ignorant and sometimes when I do ask it is interpreted that I am ignorant. Any thoughts? I am African American...


Eyeglasses — 03/06/06

I am curious if any eyeglass wearers can recommend a certain type of glasses that works real well for work. The kind that will not slip off or become foggy, good for sunlight, etc. Thanks any suggestions welcomed.

RE: 2 Vol. FF's and getting pregnant — 03/03/06

First off--yes it is wrong to put your baby in a car seat and go on runs. Who's watching the baby while the parents are taking care of the emergency? What if something happens? We all know that things can and do go wrong on scenes. Secondly, as far as having kids and both of you being volunteers, both of you will have to sit down and decide who's going to go on runs. If your families are close, is it possible to get them to drop what they are doing to watch the baby on short notice. That's what I did when I was a single mom. Lastly, you may not want anything to do with the department after you have a baby. Your life does change and you may feel differently. Don't go back just to prove others wrong. No one should look down on you for wanting to be a mom. I was a volunteer with 2 kids and am now paid with 3. My life did change but I did not change my mind about my career. You may not either. Good luck.

RE: Maternity duty pants — 03/03/06

I wore x-lg bdu's until I could no more. Then I ordered a plain pair of navy blue maternity pants to wear. One of my coworkers had a maternity panel sewn in her bdu's but did not like it.

RE: RE: Too Old to Start? — 03/03/06

I started on a volunteer dept at the age of 38! I am 41 now and trying to get on a paid dept. A local dept just hired 8 men all over the age of 40. If you want to do it bad enough - don't let any thing stop you!! Keep trying!

RE: RE: RE: Too Old to Start? — 03/03/06

Thanks for your posting! I am 41 and trying to become a career firefighter. I have been asking my self if I am too old to be trying to get into the business. I am very happy for your success!

RE: RE: Too Old to Start? — 03/01/06

You are never too old to start if it is something you really have a desire to do. I just became a career firefighter at the young age of 44!! I absolutely love it!!!!

RE: Maternity duty pants — 03/01/06

I was looking through a Galls catalog the other day and saw that they had maternity uniform pants.


2 Vol. FF's and getting pregnant — 03/01/06


My husband and I are both very involved with our volunteer dept - he's the Asst Chief, I am the LT. Needless to say, we love what we do.

Lately, the topic of us having kids has come up. While we both know that we want to have children, the fact that I may have to quit the dept. is holding me back. I don't want to quit, but how are we going to work around a baby? Who's going to stay home during the "big" call? Or any call for that matter? And we train/meet every week.

I can say that both of our families are around, but I don't want to seem as if I am neglecting my child for the FD. People keep telling me that I won't want anything to do with the FD when I have a baby, which upsets me and makes me want to prove them wrong!! But, am I just wishful thinking?

I'm thinking that while I'm pregnant, I can be Command on scenes. Of course, no heavy lifting, fighting fires, etc. I feel our families would help out a lot too, but not for sure. I know a couple who would put the baby in the car seat and go on to the call - is that wrong?

In a word, help. Please. Any advise, people who've been through this would be wonderful!!



RE: Maternity duty pants — 02/28/06

My husband is also a FF. I had his pants hemmed and used a rappelling belt.

Pregnancy — 02/28/06

I plan on having a family soon and I work for a paid/volunteer department. We only have 7 paid FF so FLMA dose not apply to our dept. Iím needing some help on what to do. I'm sure they will want me on light duty but we don't have light duty. If I take a leave of absence I will lose my insurance not to mention my paychecks. It's very hard to think in this day and age we are discriminate against for bring life into this world. Any suggestions would be so great.

Diversity and Firefighting — 02/28/06

Hello everyone, I am not a firefighter, nor do I plan on becoming one- but I am a graduate student in Management and Policy, a women, and very interested in the politics of women in fire departments. I am currently enrolled in a Human Resources class and for a group project we have decided to look into diversity issues relating to the FDNY- specifically the inclusion of women. I have been dating a firefighter for over two years and his house recently had a women join its ranks.

I was wondering if anyone has any information- legal, personal, prescriptive, etc. that would be useful for a research project regarding women in the fire department? Since the project is in its beginning stages, I am open to whatever information you are willing to provide. And by the way- the messages that everyone has posted are very inspirational!



By the way- the questions that Nat asked of Jess are exactly the type of things I think we should be looking for... thanks in advance!!!

General Public — 02/28/06

This question is directed to experienced firefighters:

How do you handle the general public when they want to ďgovernĒ your personal life? I understand that being a firefighter is a community service and that your income comes from taxpayer's money (community) but how do you balance the ďpublic's eyeĒ? I am a married woman with two children. And would like to enjoy private time with my family. Is that possible?

Whistleblower issues? — 02/28/06

Hi Ladies! I'm not a FF yet, I'm taking my FF I and FF II simultaneously. I was wondering if any of you out there have ever blown the whistle on someone and then was retaliated on. I blew the whistle on this guy about 6 months ago for looking at child porn, etc on the work computer. I went through the chain of command and told the director and assistant director of our ambulance service, nothing was done for over a year. So I went to the Sheriff's Dept and told them. Eventually this guy was fired, and now, magically, 6 months later, I'm such a bad employee, I was fired with no reason given. I have no doubt in my mind that this is directly related to me turning this guy in. Can you ladies help?


Winter Kuehn, EMT-I

RE: Hey I have a Question — 02/27/06


You can get extra small gloves from about any fire store, those might fit you better. I also have small hands and have found that just the size small fit me just fine. If you need the link to a store let me know and I will be glad to send it to you.

RE: RE: Just looking in — 02/27/06


It is good to hear that you work for a department where you haven't had to suffer because of gender based discrimination or hostility. My question for you is what do you attribute your department's success to as far as mitigating or eliminating these issues? Is it strong leadership; good communication and rapport between management and employees (and amongst employees themselves) without fear of retaliation; clearly defined policies and corrective measures consistently applied when violations of policy exist; good teamwork and training as a team; treating each other with courtesy and respect; a strong employee union or human relations department, etc? What recommendations would you have for improving an organization from within that does struggle with work environment issues?

Good luck with your promotional exam.


Maternity duty pants — 02/27/06

Do any of you mothers have any suggestions as to what you did for maternity duty pants? Thank you!

IAFF National Presumptive Disease Database — 02/27/06

Dear Sisters,

Every year, the IAFF faces the loss of its members to cancer and infectious diseases. Two years ago, an effort began to establish an IAFF national database identifying the number of members affected by these illnesses. The goal of this is to increase the opportunities for new research and aid in securing presumptive disease protection.

As a result, the Professional Fire Fighters of Maryland have agreed to submit a National Presumptive Disease resolution for consideration at the 2006 IAFF Bi-Annual Convention.

Many of you have expressed an interest in advancing this project. We would like to update our list of IAFF State Association and Local supporters. To accomplish this, your response would be appreciated no later than March 11, 2006.


Cindy Ell, Anne Arundel Co., MD Local 1563, Retired

Tracy Koons, Bucyrus, OH Local 1120

RE: Hey I have a Question — 02/24/06

Hey Ashley,

Iím an Explorer and Iím only 16 and Iím just like you Iím the only girl that is interested in becoming a actual firefighter. I have been discriminated against I had almost a whole entire fire department tell me I couldnít be a firefighter because Iím a girl. It got me down for a while, but if it is really what you want donít let them get you down. Go for your dreams make yourself happy thatís what matters. They say anything to you just smile and keep on going. Show them you can do it. Itíll pay off in the end.


RE: Ongoing struggle — 02/24/06

After ten years on the job, a new chief brought new tolerances, one of the most offensive is his open disregard of females that don't giggle and play with his hair. Those ten years of hard work and dedication are not up for grabs, not by him or his 'Good Ole Boys' network that came out of the boot-licking closet when he arrived. The thing about discrimination is that the Federal Government protects us. If the person hired over you is less experienced and/or qualified, you may be able to look at other reasons (gender, race, etc). Regardless of whether your state is an ďat willĒ state, it violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to discriminate against protected classes (females being one of those classes). The most likely hurdle is if your department is small. Fifteen is the magic number of employees for EEOC to intercede. Often volunteers qualify as employees. Educate yourself, I was initially told no when I asked EEOC to investigate. I produced case precedence (try a Google search for Haavistola or Victoria Pietras) and pushed the issue, they finally agreed to investigate. Also consider what the consequences of pursuing this will be. I have been black-balled by the cronies that think the less qualified men should have been hired, been glared at, stared at, criticized, ostracized, and generally treated like crap since filing the complaint. I was fired from a long-time area of responsibility and removed from my officer position; even though I am among the top five trained and experienced personnel in the department. I have also found out who my friends are. Several people said they would have done exactly the same thing and stood by me. Most of them do not support me openly, at my request, because those that have backed me up are treated as badly as I am. If you have thin skin, think long and hard about this. I donít regret it for an instant, although I reserve the right to retract in the future. I know I did the right thing, and I hope more will, too, if only to get the message across that WE ARE HERE TO STAY!

RE: Pregnancy and Full-Time FF's — 02/24/06

I just had a baby last year. I was the first in my department. I was kinda hairy at first too. I was put on desk duty as soon as I found out. The doctor didnít want the liability. I worked 8-5 Monday thru Friday until 1 week before he was born. After that I used sick and vacation until I came back. It seemed to work out great and I was able to do a lot of deck duty for the officers, and started many prevention programs within the department.

RE: Just looking in — 02/22/06

Hi Marley,

It's good to see you back on the board. I am sorry that you had to go through what you did, and ultimately give up what you love. I wish you all the luck in getting back into the fire department! Keep looking...not all departments have a minimum age.

I am one of those women on the "other side", as you put it. I see many, many posts of the discrimination and bias that still exists, as well as the harassment that continues in some departments. I reiterate, some, departments. I have been full time now for 15 years, and am testing for promotion in another month. I have never been discriminated against, nor harassed. I work with 200 other men who are in fact, just like brothers...some older and some younger. They are very supportive of me, my career, as well as my goals for promotion.

I learned early on to choose my battles wisely, and to fight for those things that you are truly passionate about. 100 years of tradition were not going to change because I wanted a job. Nor did I expect it to. I dress and act appropriately in the firehouse, and adhere to the rules and regs set forth (as I am sure everyone else here does). I passed all the same testing and interviews as everyone else, and have never gotten any special treatment because I am a woman. Now don't get me wrong, when I started I had to prove myself, just like the 19 other men that I was hired with. Not because I was a woman, but because I was "the new guy". And wouldn't you know, they kind of liked me! Now here I am, 15 years later. I am involved in the Fire Explorer programs, am an instructor for the State Fire Academy and am working on a few programs to help further the career opportunities for women trying to get into the fire service. The opportunities are there, and there is more support out there for women that some may think.

There are many negative posts about the harassment issues, and they are very real. This is a great forum to get feedback on those issues, and just general support. But there are also many great departments, with many great men and women working in them, who do not have these issues. I hope all the younger women out there know that.

Take care Marley, and I know that you will be able to return to the fire service if that is your goal. Know that you have every ones support, and many years of women and tradition behind you.

Stay safe,


Pregnancy and Full-Time FF's — 02/22/06

I'm looking for protocols on pregnancy at Full Time Depts in the USA. We have a woman whose ob/gyn has taken her off duty immediately at 2 months, then for 6 weeks afterwards. Currently she can use sick time, vacation time, comp time (that will get her paid through the first 3 of 9 months) then she must go onto Family Medical Leave, which is with no pay plus you must pay all your insurance. Is this the way it works at most places?

Just looking in — 02/21/06

Hi all,

I was active here a while back while I was going through harassment at work. I pretty much stopped after I quit, because it hurt too much to read about the job.

It still hurts. It's not getting any better--it's getting worse. I'm thinking of trying again, even though I'm too old. (I'm way over the cutoff age for several local departments, and thanks to depression and problems at home, I'm now terribly out of shape.)

I know that in large part this message board is a place to vent and ask for advice, which is why I see the same BS happening to people every time I look in. What I'd like to see, if anyone can volunteer it, is the other side. Does anyone here have a safe and stable department, a supportive officer and crew, a solid career without death threats or getting cornered in the bathroom?



Hey I have a Question — 02/21/06

Hey, I just wanted to say that I respect all of you. I am 17 years old and Iím an Explorer on a rural volunteer fire dept. I also had a question, Iím not the only girl that is on the fire dept., but Iím the only girl that is interested in actually fighting fire. Sometimes the guys give me a hard time, how would you deal with this?

I also wanted to know if you knew any place that made custom firefighting gloves? I have really small hands and all of the fingers are too large. They make it really hard to grab or hang on to things. I would really love to hear from any of you.



RE: Too Old to Start? — 02/21/06


This is to the divorced/single mom who is 36 (or any other mom). I am the same: a divorced/single mom who is 35. I am so excited to be pursuing this passionate goal of mine.

I am in the beginning stages of becoming a volunteer firefighter and would like to ask you a few questions. I would love some advice on a few subjects also. Anyone in the same boat? Feel free to e-mail me at


A thank you to all women firefighters — 02/20/06

Iím 16 years old and I have wanted to be a firefighter since I was about 11. Seeing that there are this many women firefighters makes me proud in my decision to be a firefighter. Being a firefighter means more to me than anyone can imagine. And just thinking that there are other women who feel the same makes me proud. Thank you to all women who are leading the way for female firefighters. I appreciate it so much. Keep on truckin!!!

RE: 35 foot ladder halyard — 02/20/06

Have you tried rotating your hands a quarter turn after grasping the halyard (with your thumbs down) so that your palms are now facing the ground (your thumb would now be nearest to your body)? This helps to get a "bite" on the halyard and keeps it from slipping. Also, you can do that with both hands, one hand a few inches above the other, and pull down with both hands simultaneously, to help control the weight of the fly sections. Then just reposition one hand at a time and pull down together again. In this way, you will always have control of the halyard and not burn your forearms out quite so quickly. There is one more little technique that you might be able to incorporate if your department allows. Grasp the halyard with both hands as described above and as you pull down also bend at the knees some to let your body weight work for you as well. Then straighten your legs as you regrasp the halyard one hand at a time to take another "bite" and then repeat the process. Make sure you maintain your balance and control of the ladder at all times.

Also, dumbbell exercises are a great way to build strength in your hands and forearms. Wrist curls, bicep curls (palms facing upward - thumbs to the outside through the entire range of motion), hammer curls (neutral grip with palms facing inward for the entire range of motion), and Zottman curls (start with your palm facing forward - thumb on outside of your body and rotate your hand 180 degrees so that your thumb ends up closest to your body at the top end of the range of motion. Reverse the process on the way down.)

Hope this helps. Good luck.


RE: Too Old to Start? — 02/15/06

Heck no, you're not too old! I was 30 when I became a volunteer and 34 when I got a job. Your course of action will vary depending on where you live and whether you are looking to volunteer or start a career.

If you want to volunteer, just call up your local department and they will probably be glad to accept you and provide you with training. If you are thinking of a career, many big departments don't require experience because they want to mold you to their ways. Call your local departments and ask about their hiring processes, which (I warn you) can be lengthy and complicated. Some only offer civil service tests once every 5 or more years. Some have age or residency requirements. Smaller paid departments often want experience in firefighting or especially paramedic-level EMS certification. Often, if you are in a volunteer department, you can work toward fire and EMS certifications at no cost to you other than your time. Other things to make you marketable include knowing a foreign language (especially Spanish) and being very physically fit. Good luck to you.


RE: Too Old to Start? — 02/15/06

Too old??? Please...I am a divorced/single mom that started green in the fire service at the age of 36yrs. It's a great career. If you really want to do it, I say go for it. Just keep in mind; things will be VERY difficult if you don't have support from your family to help with the kids. It does require a lot of your time, but I wouldn't change it for the world. Good luck!

Starting off on the right foot??? — 02/15/06

Ok where do I start??? I have served 11yrs in the armed forces, 5 of which were active USN as a firefighter, and 6 in the US Army as a medic/driver /mechanic. I am currently a paid per call firefighter in northern CA. Iím going on a year at my station. Iím currently in a Fire Academy about half way through, I still need to test for my EMT but I was wondering if any one had any advise or tips from where to go from here? Any advice is more then welcome, thanks for reading.

Re: Coed bunkrooms — 02/15/06

This is in response to the previous poster who warned against pushing for separate facilities because your department might then limit you to working only at stations that have these facilities.

If I saw a fire department telling women they couldn't work at certain stations, and men of comparable seniority were allowed to work there, I would advise those women to talk to a lawyer. Particularly if it "cuts them out of an opportunity to specialize and may hamper their efforts to transfer to desirable stations or other specialized companies." Employers are not allowed to make job decisions based on the employee's sex.

If the fire station facilities are inadequate for the workforce, then the fire department needs to fix the facilities -- not limit the job assignments and options of one group of employees. Women who are told they can only work at certain stations are essentially being told that management isn't taking them seriously as part of the workforce.

Old Fire Gal

Just a hello — 02/14/06

Just happened to run across this website by accident, but looks very interesting to me. Maybe I will be joining as a member sometime soon. It's always nice to meet sister firefighters. To all: Be safe out there!

RE: 35 foot ladder halyard — 02/14/06

Hey girl!! Don't get too discouraged with the 35-foot ladder. It's not easy, even for some men. The secret I have found is in your gloves...if they're too worn they'll look all shiny in the palms and fingers, and keeps you from getting a good grip...for me...that was it...check out your gloves and see if that will help.

Too Old to Start? — 02/14/06

I'm a 26 year-old married woman. I have no experience, and no firefighting training or education. Am I crazy or too old to think about becoming a firefighter when I have to start from the beginning?

RE: AF Fire Lady — 02/13/06

Hey girl, I am 22 years old and a paid on call firefighter. I also want to go into arson investigations in the long run. I donít have children but I talk to all of the women with children all the time, and ask them how they do it. I want kids in the near future and my significant other is also a firefighter, they say you really need the family support, not a babysitter, but family for your child to be around if you are working or have to go workout. One of the women said family is good, because you were raised around them and they can raise your child for the most part how you would want them raised, plus we know usually family is better than strangers. So if you can have your family help you it would be great. You can e-mail me if you want! Good luck.

RE: Coed bunkrooms — 02/13/06

Be aware that pushing for separate facilities, or letting them be pushed on you, may come back to haunt you. My department (apparently because of a previous female ff's demands) has an unwritten policy of putting women only in stations that have separate female quarters. This already has cut me out of an opportunity to specialize and may hamper my efforts to transfer to desirable stations or other specialized companies. This infuriates me since the leaders of my department talk a big talk about treating women equally and not giving them special treatment, but then I keep hearing that I can't be permanently stationed at some of the best firehouses in my department because the men don't want to share their facilities.

35 foot ladder halyard — 02/13/06

I am in the process of completing a hiring orientation for a POC position and am having some issues with being able to raise a 35 foot ladder, the halyard slips through my hands, we have to use a hand over hand approach with thumbs down, even on the way down it slips and I lack having controlÖthis is the ONLY thing holding me back, I am discouraged and frustrated...we do not have a 35 foot at our training station, so to practice I have to do it with the career guys, I need to practice more than once every few weeks though. They already think most women should not be there. I want to get this down!!!! Anyone have any suggestions?

AF Fire Lady — 02/10/06

Hey! I am a 21 year-old single mom in the Air Force Fire Dept. I've been doing this for 3 1/2 yrs now. I love my job and all the guys. But working these hours (1 on, 1 off) sometimes really gets to me about being a mother. And trust me sometimes it gets a little tough. I was just wondering if anybody has any kind of supportive advice out there for me. I would like to make the Fire Service a career and maybe doing something like an Arson Investigator. Thanks.

RE: Coed bunkrooms — 02/10/06

I am the second female of a 101 member department. We have 5 stations. We all sleep in the same bunkrooms at all 5 stations. Our beds are now somewhat sectioned off with metal lockers. I still might have a male member across from me but we all act professional and get dressed for our calls when asleep. (if they are in the middle of the night). Our old station when just one female worked here only had 1 room with 8 beds only about 2 feet apart. There weren't any problems then either. It was a little awkward at first but that worked its way out as it became more normal.

Ongoing struggle — 02/08/06

I am a 40 yr old five year volunteer who has been trying to pursue a career in firefighting. I have completed my vol. 160 obtained my EMT have two semesters to finish my paramedic and just passed the CPAT. I work for the city that I volunteer for as the Aquatics Manager. I was encouraged by our chief, that if I passed the CPAT, I would have a good chance of getting a job. I did not get the job because he said there were more qualified applicants, and that they wanted all paramedics. Little did they know that they would be hiring one of my classmates. He does not have his paramedic but FF I, another guy has his Paramedic but not his FF I. I worked my butt off to pass the CPAT, I think they thought I never would. I don't intend to give up, it is just that the CPAT only is good for one year. I feel discriminated against and feel I don't have a leg to stand on Alabama is an employment at will state. What to do???????

Coed bunkrooms — 02/08/06

Our 33 member career department has one female. We also have one engine outstation initially manned by one person until our manning was just increased. As the lone female for 15 years now, I have worked the outstation alone many times. Now that we will be doubling up there, we have run into a policy issue. Neither I, my captain, nor the chief no exactly how to handle the situation. There is only one bunkroom, although it has two beds. NFPA suggests that dormitory type rooms not be shared by both genders, although a bathroom with a lock is permissable. I previously worked part-time as a medic in a single bunkroom with a guy but the building housed the dispatch center so we were not secluded and we were supposed to pull a curtain between the bunks. Of course, no one ever did. Anyway, I would greatly appreciate any policies or suggestions you could formard regarding this issue.


Pregnant Firefighters — 02/06/06

Howdy. Our department has our first pregnant firefighter and I was looking for information regarding uniforms and policies. Thank you.

RE: Possible future firefighter — 02/06/06

Nicky, you are at a crossroad that will be either very difficult or very easy, depending on a few things: support from family (spouse or significant other) regarding child rearing, and also your department's view on pregnancy.

At the age of 35, I am a doctor of chiropractic medicine, with a fulltime sports injury practice, and I am an ex-fire captain/training officer after 5 years (19 years of fire service) and ride also with an engine company in the town I work in, so I have a full plate. I have seen women in the fire service around me go through struggles on the volunteer level by being placed on leave automatically because they didn't know their civil rights etc. Educate yourself on this!!! WFS offers a packet that can help you in that area.

As for social stigma, one of the women who rides on my department recently had a baby, and she was a captain when she got pregnant. She has recently returned and is climbing rank and fighting the chief all the way up because he sees that she is a mom and should be "home with her kid more." It's not his decision, and she loves the fire service as much as I do and probably yourself, but itís just an issue you will face because -- let's face it -- itís considered a man's profession with a few women in it. They just don't understand that we love it and are driven by it as much as they are, and it's just as hard for us to give it up when we become a parent as it would be for them if we made them stop for becoming a dad.

As for time being away from family, you see that in the fire service anyway.... kids or no kids. I believe it's about communication and priorities to make it work. Too much in either direction is no good for SOMEONE.

It sounds like your heart is in the firefighting realm. But since I am a white-collar professional myself, I would be hard-pressed to not say, "Don't cut yourself off at the knees if you think one day you might regret not pursuing a career as a doctor." It's always easier to try a career direction when you are in college than to not do it because you are scared you will fail and never go back to it. Firefighting as a career is not always what we think it is going into it. Think of the positives, but be realistic about the negatives too. You appear to have the world in front of you right now, so just be smart and listen to your gut!!

All my best to you and your future!

Dr. & Firefighter Renee Foster
Green Brook Fire EMS Dept.
Bound Brook Engine Co. #1
New Jersey

Junior firefighter programs — 02/06/06

Aloha --

I am involved with starting a junior firefighter program on Kaua'i, with the County of Kaua'i Fire Department. Currently there are 2 female members in the department, and one of the things I hope is accomplished with starting a junior firefighter program is that more females will get into the department.

We are familiar with the Learning for Life program and the Explorer Program and are thinking of taking 'best practices' from a variety of programs and tailoring to meet our needs. I would be most grateful if anyone who has experience or knows of good programs in this area would e-mail me at

Mahalo nui loa (Thank you very much),

Pat Hunter-Williams

Possible future firefighter — 02/03/06

Hi all,

My name is Nicky and I am currently the Chief of the Explorers program for the Coral Gables Fire Rescue in Coral Gables, Florida. Along with all of the responsibilities attached to running this wonderful program, I am also a college student, one that needs some career advice.

Ever since I can remember, I've wanted to be a doctor, and all of my family has been expecting this of me when I finish college. However, I have been doubting that career choice for a while now. I have been with the Explorers program for about 3 years now and am thrilled for the opportunity to put my best efforts into it. The more I learn about the fire service, the more I fall in love with it, and the more I want to become a firefighter. My dilemma comes in to play with my desire for a family in the future, and the social stigmas that come along with being a firefighter, and much more a woman firefighter. How do you guys handle all of this? Are the rumors I've heard about not having enough time with your family true?

I would greatly appreciate some advice with this, and any other suggestions you all might have for me. I really believe that firefighting is my ideal career.

Thank you in advance for your help!

Explorers Chief
Coral Gables Fire Rescue

Getting Passed up — 02/03/06

This is my first time to the site. I really have enjoyed reading what I have read. I have a question for all you guys.

I am looking to take a Captains test this year and I have a really good change it I can test high. I am just worried about moving up and how to manage a crew as a woman. What I mean is how to come across, get things done, and not be bossy. Is there a book or someone that I can sit and talk with? I am just looking for some coaching help.

RE: Mother — 02/03/06

To the mother of the 13 yr old and 7 yr old. I also have a 13 yr old and 15 yr old. Our dept has a group called Explorers where it allows young kids to help at fires etc. It is very safe and fun for kids. I'm the advisor of that group. Try starting something like that. It is very interesting, but remember, the key word is volunteer, so you should still be able to make field trips etc. I do, and my chief and dept is very understanding. I strongly recommend getting kids involved in fire service. It's so interesting for them. Of course our kids don't go anywhere near the hot zone. They just help change air bottles for firefighters roll up hoses at the end of a fire. They really help and we keep it safe.

RE: I'm getting prepared — 02/02/06


I will try to answer some of your questions but it is difficult without knowing the policies of the department you are applying to. First of all, I am unclear about your question about completing "the tests". If you are referring to the physical abilities test, most depts use the CPAT and that is a pass/fail test... If you do not complete all stations within the allowed time you do not pass. However, some departments use other physical abilities tests and may not have a time requirement, but I would guess that if you cannot complete the test you will not pass. Because this is such a competitive field to get into, and because of the difficulty of the physical demands placed on firefighters on a daily basis, the physical tests are usually pretty strict.

If by "the tests" you are talking about a written test, usually they will take the top applicants (the actual number of applicants that move on from the written will vary from department to department, and may depend on the # of applicants, and the # of positions available, but they will usually let you know how many will move on to the next stage). So just passing the written might not be enough to make it to the next stage; you will probably need to be at the top of the pack score-wise. Keep in mind you must pass all stages of the application process to proceed to the next and ultimately be hired, so if you are worried about not being able to "complete" any of the tests I would recommend finding out what the policies are for that department for that hire and work on being able to complete everything and COMPLETE IT WELL.

I would think your boyfriend would be a good resource in letting you know the exact requirements for the tests given by the deparment, or at least let you know who within the department would be the person to direct these questions to.

As far as whether or not you will be hired because you are a woman, they legally cannot discriminate against you based solely on your gender. Every department's attitude regarding women in the fire service can be different (just look at all the posts on this site...), but if you are a strong candidate then you have a good chance. I would not be as worried about not getting hired becuase of being a woman but more about how being a woman affects how you are treated once you are hired. As you can see from all these posts, the attitude toward women in the fire service will vary from dept to dept (even station to station). Some places are more accepting of women than others, and you must be prepared for the reactions of men to a woman hire (i.e. affirmative action can be a blessing and a curse). Many will assume you only got hired becuase you are a woman... but if you truly deserve the job, are a hard worker and a good firefighter, most (hopefully) will see that you were hired for your merits not your gender.

As far as if you will be able to perform the tasks necessary to be a firefighter, this leads me to wonder if you really are ready to be applying for a job. Only you can know whether or not you can perform the tasks, and everyone has their own stengths and weaknesses. If you are unsure, that will come through in the interview, and others will definitely doubt you if you doubt yourself. Some people (both men and women) have difficulty dealing with the physical aspects, some people have trouble being compassionate, others don't work as well (or can't function) in extremely stressful situations. There is so much more to firefighting than being able to physically complete the tasks and there are many applicants that do not understand this if they have no past experience.

I am assuming you have no prior experience, and if that is the case I would highly recommend talking to a veteran of the fire service, a long-time firefighter, as they can give you a better picture of what firefighting is really about. It is VERY different from what you may see in the movies and popular belief. Talking to a veteran will help you understand both the good and bad aspects to firefighting, and what about it you personally will have difficulties with and possibly how to help deal with them to make you stronger.

Because I do not know the department's policies on assigning firefighters to their respective companies, I cannot say for sure what arrangments can be made regarding you and your boyfriend's schedules, but I believe most departments have a rotation or assignments already in mind when they hire. I would check with the department what their policies are for placement of firefighters. It might take years before you get on the company, shift, and station you want, as I believe seniority is a factor in these decisions in many places.

So I guess the gist of this would be to find someone within the department you are applying for (ask your boyfriend, but try to get info from more senior members of the department if you can) and ask them these types of questions, as they are hard to answer without knowing the policies and proceedures of that department as well as not knowing your personality.

Firefighting is a very difficult profession, but the rewards more than make up for the sleepless nights and sore muscles... So good luck and stay safe!


RE: First Impressions - Insights needed — 02/01/06

Unfortunately, what you experienced is the norm. Men do not adjust to working with women. Many seek out firefighting as a place where they do not have to work with or accept women. In their eyes it is the last great fraternity. I worked in a male dominated field prior to becoming a firefighter. When I worked commercial constructions once you proved you knew your job and could do it well you were accepted at least on some level. Not in firefighting. After 8 years on the job and countless fires and countless EMS runs I am still questioned as to my abilities and knowledge. I have finally realized that I will never be truly accepted by most.

I'm getting prepared — 02/01/06

I have been dieting and exercising more lately in preparation for the tests ahead! I will turn in my completed application today. I'm very nervous. So many questions, like what if I can't complete the tests? OR: Will they not hire me because I'm a woman? Will I be able to perform the tasks neccessary to be a firefighter? This is so frustrating.

I also had a question to those of you who have a boyfriend or husband in the fire service as well. My boyfriend is a firefighter at the department that I am applying for. Do you think that they would be willing to arrange for us to work the same shifts, not at the same stations? I figure it will be hard to maintain a relationship only seeing each other 1 out of 3 days. What is you all's point of view on this?


Acceptance — 02/01/06

After reading some messages I feel pretty good about where I work. I have been accepted as a firefighter (yeah a female too) since the day I have walked through the door. I had all the same physical, writen, psychological, and background tests as all men and women who have tested. I earned my career as a firefighter - not a woman. I have a very hard-working Lieutenant to thank. She had been at the department for 12 years as the only female prior to myself being hired. She raised the bar high and now I hold it up. I will say to let people (girls and guys) know your weaknesses whatever they may be. It may get used against you - most likely as a joke. In my eyes I am one of the guys. I love my career.

IAFF - Michigan Firefighter Tracy

RE: Possible harassment — 01/31/06

Hey, sorry that you are going through such a rough time. Unfortunately, I am sure there are many of us out there who have gone through something similar. I don't know why anyone would get joy out of making you feel the way you do. It probably is only jealousy. Unfortunately you have to suffer because of someone else's low self esteem. Hang in there and know that we are all thinking about you and hoping that things do get better.

Help! I upset the thermal balance. — 01/30/06

Does anybody want to talk about the in station social ramifications of going up for promotion? I love my boys (okay, coworkers) and thought they would support me in my first lieutenant's process. These are the guys that helped me transition into the fire department and made me into a contributing member of our company. I wasn't promoted this go around (no big surprise as almost nobody gets it on the first try). I'm not upset about it, and things are getting better around the station now that itís over. I'm worried about next year. I feel like I've upset the thermal balance of our social hierarchy.

What can I do differently next year to help them with this transition? Or is it just the way it has to happen?

Bio: 28 years old, 7 year professional firefighter/paramedic in a municipal fire dept of 380 uniform (10 percent girls- our pioneering generation of girls is almost ready for retirement)... ours is a big company, eleven plates around the table- engine, ladder, medic, battalion. Riding assignments are rotational. Of my boys, seven are senior to me, and three are junior.

RE: Possible harassment — 01/30/06

I think you should give your superior officers one more chance to correct this matter. I would lay the law down to them. Tell them you do not want to be moved again, you want them to correct "the problem individual" or you will and when you do you will be involving the whole department in filing grievances, if that doesn't work, you will take it to lawyers, lawsuits, court etc...

I have found that if you show them a strong personality they will eventually back down. I would also file a harassment charge on him about the phone calls.

RE: Possible harassment — 01/30/06

Report this behavior to the Chief. He/She is legally obligated to investigate. If you do not receive satisfaction there, contact the human resources director and file a complaint.

Harassing phone messages are illegal--report these to the police and get a restraining order. Claims of harassment and creation of a hostile work environment should be reported to the appropriate supervisor(s) and HR director for investigation and resolution. You do not have to "put up with" any of this behavior. It is illegal, period.

Should your City officials fail to investigate and/or stop the behavior, they can be held responsible for the behavior as well.

Research EEOC and your state's civil rights commission websites for information on how to file complaints involving harassment and hostile work environment. Document the incidents, be specific and be professional. Good luck.

RE: Possible harassment — 01/30/06

Is there another fire house you could switch to? I am worried about your family mentally, physically and psychologically? Don't look at them winning...look at it as an opportunity for you to seek out a new opportunity and challenge. Just consider if this particular 'battle' is worth the 'fight'. Just keep your peace of mind nothing can replace it.



RE: Possible harassment — 01/26/06

Hey, sorry to hear your not happy with your job. I am a paid firefighter, also a volunteer fire chief. You will get harassment on the job. That is what we have to look forward to by being a female. The way I look at it is I only have to put up with it for 24 hrs. I too, used to get a lot of crap. Just do your job and go home those people donít have to like you; the truth is they are jealous. The only person you owe anything to is yourself and your family. Your right if you quit they will win. You are better than they are. Keep your head up high. Guys will all stick together. Good luck.

RE: Possible harassment — 01/26/06

If he's calling you and leaving harassing messages, you really should call the police. Save the messages and keep track of when he calls. His behavior is very much out of control and quite illegal.

I'm sorry you have to put up with all that garbage, not every department is like that. Hang in there!

RE: I'm very interested! — 01/24/06

Being in the volunteer fire dept. is hard but it is fun. I have 3 children and 2 of them are girls and I show them that they can be anything they want to be. As far as fire gear they go by what size you wear in pants and jacket. You can make it what you want it to be.

Possible harassment — 01/24/06

I need help. I have been on the paid fire department for 4+ years, and have put up with my fair share of stuff. Recently, I have had to put with harassment at the workplace, with this guy, for a few months. I have asked him to leave me alone, and just not talk to me anymore. Even my husband has asked him the same (a firefighter also). Now, he will make comments about me, to other people, in front of me because he knows that it gets to me. No one will tell him to back off, for fear of siding with 'the skirt'. I am at my limit with this guy, and it has gotten so bad that he leaves messages on my voice mail harassing my husband and I, saying things like "I hope you are happy spending your life with that thing". We have blocked his phone calls. I have never insulted this guy to say the least, and for some reason he has it out for me. I am considering quitting my job, because I canít deal with him anymore, and he is somewhat of a popular guy at work, and the rest of the guys egg him on. I was one of the first female firefighters to be hired, so its fairly new waters with me. I am tired of hitting me head against the wall; I am tired of feeling like the station is hostile. I have complained before to my AC, who just moved me to a different station, but then they blackballed me, and teased me. I just want to come to work, do my job, and go home without feeling like I am in jail. It has absolutely made me miserable. Not to sound like a wimp, but I had a total meltdown last night because I didnít want to come back to work. I feel like if I quit, they win. I feel as if I say something, the feeling of being blackballed will be worse, and they will drive me out of here one way or another - again, they win. I donít want to be their best friend; I just want to be respected at work. Any ideas, advice?? Whew, that felt good to get off my chest. I donít have anyone to talk to about it at work, the department is so small, and I donít trust anyone. They are all backstabbers.



FDIC INDIANA — 01/24/06

Hope this finds everyone well, I ran into a few WFS attendees at the union hall two years ago. Looking to see if the Indianpolis girls are going to attend the conference, if so drop me an e-mail. See if I can meet up while I am in town.

Thanks, Dell NCFD

RE: Pregnancy Policies — 01/23/06

Purchase a long-term or short-term disability policy before you become pregnant. They can be expensive, but you will have an income from the time your doctor deems you "unable to work in your primary occupation." Can you get health insurance coverage through you husbands job? Good Luck.


Looking to chat — 01/20/06

Hi everyone, this is my first time on this website and from what I've read its pretty awesome hoping to talk and make new friends especially being in the fire service and learn different perspectives from all over hope to talk soon.

Advice please! — 01/20/06

Okay, I finally got it. I've been offered a paid full time position on a great city department in Arkansas. Next week is my "routine physical" and a psych test. What should I expect at these two exams? It is my understanding the psych test takes two hours and is followed by a visit with the doctor. PS: Thanks to Captain Bob and his "Nugget Blast" and his one-on-one advice during my interview process. Everything worked out!


RE: RE: Looking to chat — 01/19/06

You didn't list where in N. Calif. you're a volunteer at.

I work in CDF Riverside and I'm not sure which wildland class you are talking about.

There is the JC semester course "Wildland Fire Control" course.

Next is the CDF 67 hour basic fire academy for all new Seasonal hires.Some JC's teach it as a pre-employment BFOQ course.

Lastly their is is "Fire Command 1-C" which is the Company Officer Class for "Urban Fire Interface".

By all means take the ones available to you.

First Impressions - Insights needed — 01/19/06

I have just recently graduated with my Fire Science Degree and from the Fire Academy with my FF1 cert.

To my surprise the men in the academy hated me. I was continually harassed and was flat out told they "were going to run me out" of the fire academy. Throughout these 6 months I patiently played by rules and waited for my actions to prove my value as a FF. But it never happened, I was ignored and harassed until the day of graduation.

Now looking to start my first paid position in a new firehouse, I wonder if there is a better way to handle this type of abuse.

Please give me any insights you might have. I just want to get along with my coworkers and fight fire.

I'm very interested! — 01/19/06

Hello everyone! I think that it is so great that I found this web site. I live in Tupelo, MS where there is only one female firefighter. Just a couple of months ago they moved her to the office at the main fire house. I know all of this because my live in boyfriend is a firefighter. I have been thinking of joining the deptartment lately. I already know 1/3 of the deptartment personally and I love all of the guys because they are so laid back and already know that I don't put up with anybodys crap. I just want to know how hard it is to become a female firefighter? And do you special order female firefighter gear, or is it even available?

Bathrooms — 01/19/06

I heard an interesting argument regarding having separate bathrooms in the firehouse. A firehouse is a public building, thus required to abide by all the same rules as any other public building. If the city charter (or any official city document) so designates municipal buildings as public, then separate bathrooms are a requirement. Why are firehouses not subject to the same requirement? Food for thought.


RE: Womens Bathrooms — 01/19/06

I am not sure by your signature if you are a Lieutenant, or your initials are LT. First of all, if you ARE a Lieutenant, this should not be an issue. The house is under your watch, and your rules. Second, this is a petty issue in the grand scheme of our job. After 15 years full-time as a firefighter, I have learned that the best piece of advice I ever received was "choose your battles carefully". If there is a lock on the door, then lock the door when you are using the bathroom. If you walk in and one of the men is using it, either find an empty stall or use another bathroom. If you are showering, certainly lock the door. When you or the other women are not on duty, there really is no control over who uses which bathroom. I would ask the men on my shift, in my house to leave the bathroom marked "women" for my use while I am in the station. I cannot imagine that they would have a problem with that (especially if you have 4 to pick from), and would hope that they would respect you, and the other women enough to oblige without issue.

Good luck, stay safe.

First female Battalion Chief - Chicago — 01/19/06

Did anyone see the article about the sister Lynda Turner front page of the Chicago Sun Times, dated 12/20/05 the first female Batallion Chief. What an honor.

RE: I've been sexually harassed in my department — 01/19/06

Alyssa, Those guys will have to get over their uncomfortable feeling but it will take time until they get to know you. It sounds like retaliation to me. I have turned the other cheek to many times and I am tired of it. I have been in the Fireservice for eleven years. It would be a good idea to know your rights before a situation happens. You can look on the EEOC website for some basic information. Anna

RE: I've been sexually harassed in my department — 01/19/06

Hi Alyssa,

Document everything, if you haven't already. The dates, times, events, who was present, who you reported the incident to, what their response was, etc. Consult with an attorney that specializes in workplace harassment issues so that you can make an informed decision regarding what options you have and what retaliation you might face. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission may also be of some help to you EEOC website. Finally, and most important, take care of your emotional and physical health. Consider seeking some professional counseling either through an employment assistance program if your department offers one, or through your own physician network.

Good luck to you.


RE: Women's bathrooms — 01/17/06

Do you think perhaps these men have become lackadaisical? Perhaps the nature of the work and the depletement of their energy on medic calls and/or fire calls may temporarily result in these men becoming careless and thus not demonstrating prudence and consideration for female co workers?


RE: Witnesses to Sexual harassment — 01/17/06

Hi Anna,

It is very important that you document everything date, time, place and by whom if any alleged sexual and/or verbal harrassment occurred. If you have no documentation of events then it is difficult to establish that any alleged sexual or verbal harrassment has occurred. In most cases it is best just to look at today as a new start day and move forward. Why not have today be your blank sheet???

RE: RE: Chainsaw — 01/17/06

Thanks for the heads up on the training prank of the chainsaw with no fuel :) That is funny....

One prank at time...too many at once can make a soul wearisome



RE: RE: breastfeeding — 01/17/06

That is impressive you can breastfeed and be in the fire service! Congrats! I breastfed my daughter for approx 6 months and my son 3 months when I worked. However this was prior to my aspirations as a firefighter... so I am deeply impressed with you and the fire station you are employed. Hats off to you both.... and much success to all the firefighter moms and dads.



Pregnancy Policies — 01/17/06

I've been working for a small department for 2 1/2 years. My husband and I were talking about having children and I found out we have NO maternity policies. The department said there is not light duty available since we have a full 8-5 staff. They said my job would be held open for 1year, but the problem is I would have no income or insurance once I used all my sick/vacation time. If anyone has any advice let me know!!!!!!!

RE: Witnesses to Sexual harassment — 01/17/06

I was a firefighter many years ago (1987). I was in fire service as a firefighter, for 5 years. I came in after working many years as a 911 dispatcher. I was fortunate enough to become an EMT as well as the first female to become a paramedic in my department history. I would never say look the other way but I will say do all that you can to let the guys know that you can kick some ass and if need be you will bring your big crazy husband or boyfriend in the house to help. I do not condone verbal harrassment but "if I'm a bitch then your the other bitch who has to work with the bitch", would seem to work. You've got to put your foot down when you first get in to your house. You must by all means available let the guys know that you came to work just like they do. You all put your boots on the same way and when the lights and bell go off.........need I say more? Good luck. Stay safe.

RE: Women's bathrooms — 01/17/06

I'm still amazed that after all you do for mankind you let a thing like where to pee bother you. It is "ours" come to mind when you share living and working space as a firefighter. Concentrate on the job, stay strong and stay safe. Start using the men's room and believe me the men will get the message.

RE: I know how it is — 01/17/06

Push back. Harder, stronger, faster. With a lot more spirit, and smile while doing it.

RE: RE: Female Firefighters — 01/17/06

Thank you. Finally some words of wisdom.

I've been sexually harassed in my department — 01/17/06

HELP! I am at wits end. I was sexually harassed at a drill my FD put on. Two of my co-workers forcibly touched me and I was horribly ashamed. They had flirted and such before but I never thought anything of it. I am very happily engaged and everyone at the FD knows it. After the drill was over and they were gone I notified my Chief of the issue and went to the police station to file a complaint. They both entered a plea of not guilty with the court yesterday and now we've moved on to a trial. Those two have the Chief and the whole department on their side and they're telling people that I started it and wanted it. I had said several times for them to stop and had moved away every time it happened. Other than them flirting, this was an isolated incident. I don't know what to do now. I am at wits end and people from my department are telling me that the two who did it are going to sue me for slander. I was sent home by my Chief on a car accident call because I "was making the other men uncomfortable". Any advice is greatly welcome. Please help


Inspired again!! — 01/17/06


My name is Liz, I am 20, and I live in Lacaster in the UK. I have always wanted to be a firefighter, my father was a firefighter and I wanted to follow in his footsteps and achieve my main goal in life to have my dream job. I went to college and studied firefighting and had my life planned. But, I found out I was pregnant with my daughter and although I was thrilled and happy that my long term partner and I were expecting, I was also devastated at the thought of not being able to do something I was so passionate about! I thought I'd have the most borinig job because I wouldn't be able to do such a demanding job and be a mom at the same time! My daughter is now 11 weeks old and I've never known this kind of love before and by reading all your messages, you have given me inspiration not to give up and carry on training for my dream and ambition! Why should I be a stay at home mom?? I want a life full of excitement, and firefighting is where I will get it! So thanks girls for basically giving me a slap in the face and bringing me back to reality that I can and will do this!


Not using your weight vest? — 01/17/06

If you are not using a weight vest, consider using it!

Osteoporosis is bone loss occurring in post-menopausal women. By the time it is visible on an x-ray, you have lost 20% or more of your bone density. Who gets it? Mostly Caucasian women of slight build, but others are susceptible too! There are many causes. Genetics is a huge factor, plus caffeine and carbonated beverage intake, smoking, alcohol, and high-protein diets.

Treatments include prescription medication that increases calcium absorption (if you take this, you need to have your liver enzymes checked every 6 months, estrogen replacement therapy (controversial), and calcium supplements. Tums is not absorbable calcium. Neither is oyster-shell calcium. Calcium citrate is moderately absorbable. Calcium in the chemical form (microcrystalline hydroxyapatite) is the most absorbable. You can usually find it at health-food stores.

Most effective is prevention. Walking is often recommended, but I do not believe it promotes enough bone cell formation to offset the bone loss that will occur later. Instead, you should do weight training to increase the formation of bone.

Start early in your life, preferably in your teens: get a trainer, do it, and keep doing it. Weight training while youíre young -- particularly if you have a family history of osteoporosis -- can prevent hip fractures much later in life.

I also recommend using a weight vest. There is no safe substitute that I am aware of. Start out light, maybe ten pounds, and build up. Walk/work for 15 minutes twice a week. After each month, add another five pounds, and work up to 20 minutes a session. You will get a good cardio workout and help save yourself from this terrible disease.

Warning: Do not follow these suggestions if you have already been diagnosed with osteoporosis or osteopenia.

Best wishes,
Dr. Jen

RE: Women's FireDuty Boots — 01/12/06

My fire boots are the Ranger Firewalkers, and they are comfortable. I wear the size 5 and have a medium width foot. The only issue that I sometimes have with them is that the friction between boot and my socks can cause my socks to slide down when I'm really active. Other than that, I've never had a problem with them. They have good traction, etc.


RE: Chainsaw — 01/12/06

A technique that a lot of members on my department including myself use to start chainsaws is to put the chainsaw down on the ground, put your foot through the handle and step down. Hold the handle down with your left hand and pull the cord with your right hand. (Of course, use the choke if you need to.)

Once a chainsaw is started, it usually starts more easily the next time. Because of this and as a quick check, on our department, we usually start chainsaws for a few seconds on the ground before we send them up a ladder. The same is true for K12s.

Oh yeah; make sure you check that the chainsaw has enough gas in it. As a training prank, all of the fuel was dumped out of a chainsaw and it made it really hard to start. Yours truly was the first to figure out that it was hard to start because it was running on fumes after about 3 guys had struggled with it. :)


RE: What to wear — 01/12/06

I've sat in on two interview panels for our full-time dept. Most of the men wear suits and women wear the female equivalent. I have not seen anyone in a dress yet. The applicants who dress informally do stand out in a negative way.


RE: Women's bathrooms — 01/12/06

Womenís bathrooms depend on the age of the station house. When I first came on this department, the solution to the problem was to install locks on the door and the women being in the minority had to 'knock and lock'. At one station there is a 'ladies' room, 4' by 4' with a toilet and a sink. This is my bathroom, but it is still being used as the 'dump' bathroom when the guys need long sessions of privacy. (there is no fan either). I have made it fairly clear on my shift that it is my bathroom for the day. Most of the guys honor that. At the other station I share the men's room and shower and just make sure I lock the door. One theory on why the men are using the women's room when there are 3 other bathrooms available: I used to work at a brown delivery company where the ration of men to women was about 15 to 1. Our bathroom and locker was a closet with 1 stall and a sink. Supplies were stored in the stall so we could barely open the door. The men on the other hand had a huge bathroom with multiple stalls and urinals. Also a separate locker room 10 times the size of our bathroom. My supervisor used to use the women's bathroom when we were working, because he was grossed out by the thought of the hairy asses that used the mens room, and perceived our toilet seat as more sanitary. Good luck regaining your bathroom. They shouldnít be using it unless the other 3 are in use. Eva

RE: breastfeeding — 01/10/06

Congrats on your daughter!! I have a 2 year old daughter and came back to work when she was 12 weeks old. I breastfed her until she was 10 months old. I work 24 hour shifts and had a very supportive commander, which helped immensely. When I first came back I was pumping every 2-3 hours. If we had a full crew, my commander let me stay behind during medical calls if I was pumping. There were many, many times though, that I had to throw everything on the desk and run!! Are you able to have your daughter brought to you for a couple of feedings during your shift?

Let me know if I can answer any other questions. It's a lot of work, but it can be done!!!

Good luck,

Witnesses to Sexual harassment — 01/10/06

I have filed a complaint of verbal harassment and it is currently in the investigation stage. I called it verbal but I was told it is sexual. I have been called a ďbitchĒ to my face and have been told why should it matter because I did nothing about it in the past. My problem is that all of the witnesses claim they didnít hear it. Iím scared these people will not be punished and the humiliation will continue.


RE: Chainsaw — 01/10/06

I'm a Firefighter in Ontario, Canada. It sounds like your chainsaw is a piece of shit. The handle should pull. I'm right handed, and I put pressure on the chainsaw with my left hand pushing down to the ground and I pull with my right hand. Before you start the chain saw, you have to put the choke on; this allows gas to get into the lines. Then you give it 2 or 3 pulls, and you'll hear the saw wanting to start. Take the choke off and pull again. The chainsaw should start. Keep working on it.

Cyn from Ontario

RE: Women's Fire/Duty Boots — 01/10/06

Ranger makes a 13" Firewalker women's fire boot available in a shoe-fit style from size 4M to 10W. I have a pair and the only problem I have is my hooves are too broad for the wide size. I certainly recommend them, though if you have normal or slightly wide feet. The 13" height is nice for those of us that are vertically challenged, too.


Pregnancy/Maternity Policies — 01/10/06

Hi all,

I am in the process of trying to write a maternity/pregnancy policy for implementation in our union contract. I would like to hear from anyone who has provisions for light duty, duty-reassignment or any other provisions for on-the-job pregnancy. We currently have none, and are in need. Please contact me via email at as soon as possible. I have to submit the article by January 22nd, 2006. Thanks in advance for your input!!!


Women's bathrooms — 01/10/06

I need input on what other departments policy or standards are for women's bathrooms. We have 4 bathrooms 3 with showers. Two are marked men, one unisex, and one women. When I'm off or even on, the men will use it. I have to lock the door when I use it. And then there were times when I walk in on them! There are only 5 personnel on a day. Well today was the last straw. I talked with the other 2 female f/f's in my department of 120 and they run into the same problem but were afraid to address it because of repercussions. Any feedback or ideas will be appreciated. We need to stand up for what is ours. I have a letter to our Deputy Chief to address it. My Battalion Chief didn't want to touch it! But, I could go ahead with it. Nice support!

Frustrated LT.

What to wear — 01/10/06

Hi there, I am going for my 1st interview for a full time firefighter position, can anyone tell me what I should wear? I was thinking dress pants and a suit jacket.


RE: Stihl Chainsaw — 01/10/06

Strong, short pulls work for me. Try pulling the slack out of the cord, before ďrippingĒ it back. Good luck!


Thank you! — 01/05/06

Hi, I just wanted to say ' thank you ' to all the women firefighters out there that have helped me through the past couple of months. I've talked to many and chatted about running for a higher position in my fire dept. I belong to a volunteer fire company where elections are held yearly. This past December I ran for 2nd Ass't Chief against one of the guys in my dept. I wasn't sure what I should do because I was taking some harassment from his friends. I almost resigned because I thought, is it really worth it. Well, after hearing how others have gone through similar issues and problems and hung in there, I did too and I beat the guy. I found out I had more support in my dept than I thought. So, thanks to all of you (even if I didn't email or chat personally to you), I read the messages all the time and they've helped me a great deal. Thanks again and stay safe!


Keep up the good work ladies — 01/03/06

Hello. I am a firefighter in Birmingham Alabama going on 4 years now. A single mom and currently finishing my last semester in Paramedis scool at UAB here in Birmingham. I truly enjoy my job and hope you all feel the same way. I average 2 to three house fires a shift and I truck company (LADY) as I like to put it. I hold my own and over the years I have overcome the stereotypical male testasterone about a women being on their shift. But now that years have gone by, I find People request that I work with them. Bit of advice for those who are carrer firefighters as I am. Go to work and enjoy the lives that you change.. Much love.... Nina

RE: Chainsaw — 01/03/06

What technique works for you with the chainsaw other then pulling quickly and pressing the compression button? My department has compression buttons but not on all of our saws and I have found this in many surrounding departments so I have to learn how to start it without pressing the compression button. My main issue is the handle pops out of my hand when I pull. I have been doing grip strength exercises with the grip puddy, barbell wrist curls etc, but it still occurs. Any advice? Also I canít get the sucker started. (Stihl MS 460 chainsaw). Any help would be great.


RE: Light duty/pregnancy policies — 01/03/06

I hope you've worked this out already... I am currently on LD at a small dept for a pregnancy. My dept doesn't really have a policy, but I got a publication from FEMA "Many Women Strong" It delineates your rights and the depts. responsibilities. Basically the dept is not required to offer LD unless it routinely allows other FF's with temp disabilities LD assignments, but they CAN offer you LD because "maternity policies can be more generous than other disability policiesĒ Also state law may require them to offer you a transfer to "less hazardous" work.. I know CA does. If all else fails you do qualify for short term, long term and possibly state disability. Good luck

J Stowell

breastfeeding — 01/03/06

Does anyone have any experience with shiftwork and breastfeeding and pumping? I won't have to go back to work until she is almost 5 months old, but I would like to continue to pump and breastfeed. I work a 48/96 schedule, so I'm away for at least 50 hours at a time barring forced OT or late calls. All of the info out there is targeted at moms who work an 8-12 hour day and come home every night. Any info/ experiences would be great.

J Stowel

RE: Chainsaw — 01/03/06

Thanks Krissy! I'll be working with the chainsaw again on Monday at drill and look forward to investigating the compression button.


Friends wanted — 01/03/06

Hi everyone and a happy new year! I would like to find someone to email or chat with in order to exchange experiences and to learn more about the fire brigade in your country. My name is Marion, Iím a German career firefighter for 6 years and the first and only women in my department. My email:

I know how it is — 01/03/06

I know how it is to be a girl in a fire department I get pushed around all the time so if you have any tips on how to solve this please tell me.


RE: Looking to chat — 01/03/06

Hey my name is Renee and I will chat to you if you email me at: I am a fire fighter too.


Chainsaw — 12/30/05

Hi Alana,
You are having a very common problem. Your problem most likely does not lie in lack of strength, but technique. This may sound completely absurd but if you haven't been told there is a compression button on the saw. I was never told of this when I was learning, but after trying the 066 a few times I noticed the compression button. If you press it down then pull, it will take away that first click that is impeeding you. You still need a fluid fast pull. Just a trick of the trade that no one told me but is obviously what is it for. Good luck.


RE: Female Firefighters — 12/30/05

Dear Brigitte,
Please allow me to give you a little "change" for your two-cents:
First of all, I smile at your apparent youthful enthusiasm, retain it for as long as possible. You didn't say if you were a career firefighter or a volunteer. I am assuming that you volunteer, or that you are very new in your career. I will also hazard a guess that you are about 24 years old.

To "qualify" my opinions here allow me to introduce myself:
I am a 36 year-old career fire Captain and the only woman on the department. (Ladies, let us dispense with "female," shall we?) The department has only one physical standard and, thus far, I am the only woman to pass it. That was over 10 years ago, but I guess that qualifies me as a "bad MF'r," by your standards.
[You will hate me by the end of this address, but you will understand me in 5 years, I assure you.]

For the record, "liberated" women do not "complain about or question orders" or sit around on their a&&es when there is work to be done. You were out of line to even make that statement.

I will also hazard a guess that 98% of us see our male counterparts as brothers and not potential lovers.

As far as volunteering to assist in a physical agility test you intend to take, and staying late to help out...despite your intentions, it seems insincere. "Kissing up," if you will. You need to decide early on in your career if you intend to be "one of the guys," or a firefighter. They are not the same thing. Firefighting is a noble profession; but it is also okay to be a just have a strong enough character to be who you are. Does your husband want to be married to "one of the guys," or are you someone else at work? One of them is the "real" you. Firefighting is also not about you, it is servitude without room for ego. But, by all means be proud of who you are and what you do. Although you can garner information from the stories that your counterparts relate, there is no substitute for quality education either from an accredited institution or the many books and texts written on various subjects. It is well worth the investment. By your 10-year mark, you'll need to figure out what you are going to "do" when you retire. Take advantage of the education incentives offered by the department and the government. Go easy on your attempts to show the guys how great you are, some will know instinctively, others you will never convince. It is not important. Being able to perform the duties and tactics handed to you by your officers is what makes a reliable firefighter. If you have limits, find ways around them. Be sincere. Remember the basics, as well. (Did the "bad MF'r" remember to sound those floors in the search effort, or did she just assume and skip that part?) I don't expect you to answer.

Finally, (you're undoubtedly steamed by now) remember that you will serve as the role model for both men and women that follow you. At some point in your career you will not be the "newbie" and someone will be looking up to you whether you realize it or not. Pave the road that you intend to take.

If the day comes that you overhear something that you weren't supposed to, or a reality that you weren't aware of hits home; come back here. Many of these people have been where you are, and they know where you are going. We all wish you well. "Mom" is finished now.

Good luck to you all.


Weighted vest — 12/30/05

Does anyone know how I could get a hold of weighted vest at a super discounted price. I have been using a backpack with weights in it. But I read this is not good health for your back. I am trying to practice endurance on the StepMill. Do you know any fitness centers countrywide that have a stepmill you can practice on?

Thank you,

Feel free to email me at

RE: Looking to chat — 12/26/05

Hi everyone,

I work at a VF department in northern CA, I just started about 5 months ago and I am loving it. I am trying to get some knowledge of the fire service while I am in college, but I am not positive which way I should go in the fire service. I looked up some info on the wildland firefighter academy and thought that sounded interesting. So I wanted to know if any of you out there have taken it.


RE: Pregnancy issues — 12/22/05

Hi Tracey,

Congratulations on your baby boy! What a blessing and you are still able to stay with the fire service. I have a son who is 7 now and my daughter is 13. They are such a blessing. I had a tubal ligation so I can no longer have children. But I am so happy with my two and thankful I have them. Our little family is complete and I am thankful everyday I wake up and see their faces. Enjoy your new little bundle of joy and the gift of life.

Warmest regards,
Tia (Smitty08)

Female Firefighters — 12/21/05

Hi yall,

I just wanted to give my 2-cents worth.
As for females in the fire department, I don't have any issues at all. This is my second volunteer/paid fire department and I feel that the guys like me. Not for my looks, but because of my work ethics. I work my a?? off to help out, I am always there when more help is needed and I don't complain nor question orders. I know that sounds terrible to some of the liberated females, but this is how I gained their respect.

In "real life" and away from the fire department, I am a knock-out as for my looks according to my hubby, but when I deal with the guys at the department, I usually always wear a ball cap, hardly any make-up and clothes that don't reveal my body shape. I look at the guys as a bunch of my brothers and at no time would I want them to look at me in a sexual way. They have only seen me looking like a girl with dress and all at our recent Christmas party and yes, it did get their attention that there is a girl under all the stuff. I am a bit of a go-getter and when I want something bad enough, I am going for it. To give you one example of that.... one of the fire departments I am trying out for held their own department physical test a few weeks ago (they do this twice a year). I managed to schedule myself to volunteer to help them out and ended up them letting me run thru the entire thing as well.... just as if I was testing for their department. I could have left right after that but I ended up staying from 5 pm until 10:00 pm until the last piece of equipment was put up. I got to meet an entire shift, as well as 2 Battalion Chiefs. One of them ended up calling my academy instructor (they are friends) and bragged about having me there to help, which in return, the instructor bragged of me being the best scoring candidate who went thru his academy, ever. Talk about networking. Pretty is not going to get you a job or respect.... only hard work, time and just as I have read in other posts... listen. Some of these guys have soooo much experience and I sometimes spent hours listening to their stories. I am into the whole thing so I try to learn from what they are telling me. And as for hitting on me, if they realize why you are there for, they will not do that. They may joke around but I feel that the guys respect me, nor for my looks but for my drive and heart for the job. Guys at my department and fire academy gave me nicknames such a firedog and Xena these are just a few to mention. Some say stuff like "I am a bad m?????f????r when doing search in a burned building. Yeah, itís a little weird and not the usual way to receive compliments but I know what they are trying to tell me. I train very hard to be compatible with the guys and they know that.

To sum it all up in once sentence; just work your ass off, even if your are only doing hose testing. It still needs to get done, right?


RE: Women and the workplace — 12/21/05

To make it really short and sweet - do your job/training so well and good to leave her with nothing to talk about. Always give more than 100% and don't worry about her. The guys will realize soon or later what you are all about and what she is all about. It is obvious that she is the one with the problem but you need to not worry about her.


RE: Stihl Chainsaw — 12/19/05

The Stihl kills me, especially older ones. BUT it's in speed, not strength. The faster and straighter the pull, the better the start. If you are going to do any gym exercises, the back and shoulder seem to be the ones to exercise for this and all the pull-start tools such as chainsaws and PPV fans.


RE: Stihl Chainsaw — 12/19/05

Hi, for forearms, you can do hammer curls, and wrist rolls, these will give u a pump in your forearm and build strength and muscle. Trust me, you will feel it and see a difference in 4 wks. For the hammers, hold dumb bells by your side and curl your arm in a hammering position, do 3 sets of 10. For the wrist curls, take weights in each hand and just curl your wrists forward, only curling your wrists, 3 sets of 10, try these. They are hard, and use the appropriate weight, if its too easy then up the weight.
Good luck, eat healthy and stay strong,


RE: RE: Only One — 12/16/05


From a guy. The secret for any candidate is to be prepared for the interview before you walk into the room.
I believe there are only about 30 oral board questions. Plus or minus a couple. But these 30 can be disguised into hundreds of different questions.
Here is a simple way to break a disguised question down. Dissect the question down to its simplest term, one word, of what the question is really about. Once you have removed the disguise, you can place it in one of the 30 plus oral board questions you already have answers for.
Here is the list of the "Thirty Plus Oral Board Questions":
1. Tell us about yourself.
2. Why do you want to be a firefighter? When did you decide on this career?
3. What is the job of a firefighter? Are you qualified?
4. What have you done to prepare for this position?
5. What are you bringing to the job?
6. Why do you want to work for this city or agency?
7. What do you know about his city or agency?
8. What do you like to do? What are your hobbies?
9. What are your strengths? Weaknesses?
10. What would your employer say about you?
11. What are the attributes of a firefighter? What is the most important one to you?
How Would You Handle the Following Scenarios?
12. Drinking or drugs on the job? 13. Stealing on the job? 14. Conflict with another employee?
15. Irate citizen? 16. An employee crisis at an emergency? 17. Sexual harassment? 18. Racial situation? 19. Conflicting orders at an emergency? 20. An order that could place you in great danger or be morally wrong?
21. What do you say when you don't know an answer to a question?
22. Are you on any other hiring lists? What would you do if another city called you? 23. When can you start if we offered you the job?
24. How far do you want to go in the fire service? Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 25. What are the quality traits of a firefighter? Which one is the most important to you? 26. Have you ever been in an emergency situation? Tell us what you did?
27. What word would best describes you in a positive way? A negative way?
28. How do you handle conflict?
29. Why would we select you over the other candidates?
30. Do you have anything to add?
Practice these question/answers with a tape recorder until they sound right.
You can gain more insight in a previous posting on what you shouldnít say in the archives under Interview 09/01/05

Captain Bob

Stihl Chainsaw — 12/16/05

Hey does anyone have any expertise with the stihl MS 460 chainsaw? Me and another girl at my department are having major issues getting it started. I know there has to be a trick and also what type of strength is it forearm, grip, etc? Anyone who has any gym exercises that we can do would be great because we are wearing out our forearms trying to start it 100 times in a row. The problems seems that we cant get past that first click and the handle falls out of our hand grip Any advice would be greatly appreciated since we are the first women coming into this department.


RE: firefighter boots — 12/16/05

Newcomer here with my 2-cents worth: As for the Women's smaller fire service boots: Ranger makes a rubber structural boot as small as a 4. It is a "shoe-fit," which means that it's not those sloppy, "rectangular" rubber boots, but is molded into a foot-shape. These boots are the predecessors of the leather boots in the way that they fit. They are the most comfortable rubber structural boots out there. As for leathers that small, I'm not convinced that you'll have much luck. Manufacturers only make what they can sell, and I don't think that the demand is too high for that size. Try those Rangers, I'm sure you'll like them. (Not to sound like your mother here, but your department is obligated to provide you with safe gear...that does include gear that fits you, volunteer or career.)


RE: RE: Women's Fire/Duty Boots — 12/15/05

I have been wearing a nicely fitting pair of Ranger boots (rubber) for the past 6 years - men's sz 5, but suspect they are no longer available. Last year, at FDIC Indy, tried on a pair of Fire Tech LaCrosse leather boots. They come in a full range of women's sizes (even narrow widths). My chief and my daughter both are wearing them now and are very happy with them. I'm sure you can get more information on them on the web, but if you can't, email me and Iíll try to dig out the address for you. Good luck and stay safe!


RE: Only One — 12/14/05


Don't let your concern about being the only female on the department keep you from pursuing a career you are passionate about. It can be difficult being a female in what is still a male dominated profession. This message board is one place to vent or seek advice.

Put forward every effort to be proficient at your profession. Look for support from within whatever organization you end up with, family, friends, and professional peers outside of your organization as well. You're not alone out there.

Best of luck.


Only One — 12/13/05

Quick background: I'm 19 years old, have my EMT cert as well as both FF1 and FF2 and might be getting my FF Instructor (if the class is offered at home during my winter break from college).

Now that I'm at school, I want to join the FD here. I have an appointment set up to interview with the Chief. I will be the only female member on the FD here. They don't seem to be receptive to having a girl but I really enjoy firefighting and miss it a lot now that I'm at school.

I have a feeling that I'm going to need support from other women in similar positions.


RE: Women's Fire/Duty Boots — 12/13/05

We are having the same problem at our department with a female that wears a womenís 6. Can you help?


firefighter boots — 12/13/05

Our FD is looking for small boots for the females also. With no luck. Does anyone make a rubber boot smaller then a 6 (menís)?

Arleen Lt

Mother — 12/09/05

I am a mother of a 13 year old daughter and 7 year old son and I would like to connect with other moms and chat about how you juggle homework, field trips etc as a volunteer firefighter.
Thanks a bunch.

RE: New Woman on the Block — 12/08/05

Good luck, my soon to be husband is a firefighter of 8 years and I think I shocked him by finishing the firefighter 1 academy in May. But I think it is awesome to have a spouse in the same profession because we can vent and relate to each other. I come from a house where both of my parents are registered nurses and it is awesome to see them talk about their jobs and also when they have an issue they can talk about it and sometimes find a way to solve it. I think that you have already proved yourself to your hubby and I hope that you donít let anyone stop you from your dreams.

One last thing it is crazy to think that just 3 years ago before I met my better half I was gung-ho on going police then I went to the fire house when I met him and saw all of the women that worked there and said man this is something that I could do. So the following year I did my EMT and then I had the opportunity to apply for a paid on call position in my town and was hired and put through the academy and here I am today. It is amazing what could have been if I had never met him or for situation you had never met him.

Remember things happen for a reason in life. Good luck again and be strong because my other half did not support me in the beginning. =)


RE: Station Visits...continued? — 12/08/05

Let me tell you as one who likes to talk too; it will not work in your favor. It will quickly establish a reputation for you good or bad. Itís hard to believe in this modern world but as a new rookie you have to basically sit in a corner for a couple of years until you have proved yourself and are accepted. Itís something that canít be rushed. If you change stations during probation you have to start all over again.

What you do when you first start out will set your reputation and follow you throughout your career. If you donít start out on the right foot, they will show you the door. The crew already knows more about you before you show up than you think.

Youíre a snotty nose rookie. Keep your mouth shut. Be cordial, friendly and humble. You have no time or opinion until you earn it. You canít force it. That will come with a lot of calls and a few fires.

Some people feel the pressure and need to fill in the void. I suggest you concentrate on listening at least 60% of the time. Too many people are not good listeners. Especially men. Thatís what gets us in trouble with the ladies in our lives. Instead of listening most people are planning their rebuttals.

I got a call recently from a firefighter near my home asking if I knew a female firefighter candidate Cathy (not here real name) who had been a volunteer with them for a couple of months. I said, yea, why? He said, doesnít she understand whatís going on? I thought she did. Iíve seen this happen with guys too.

Turns out Cathy was doing a ride-a-long. Instead of being quiet, Cathy gave her opinion on way too much stuff including telling them about just breaking up with a firefighter from another city. The Captain asked Cathy if he could run some oral board questions by her? Sure. As the Captain was trying to give Cathy some pointers on some of her answers she continually kept cutting him off and defending her position. Not a good move. It went down hill from there. Not the impression Cathy wanted to make.

I have a mutual friend who knows Cathy and I called and asked if Cathy wants to know what happened to call me. Ten minutes later Cathy called wanting to know. I asked her is she had read the Station Visits chapter in my book Becoming a Firefighter She said yes, several months ago. Well, you had better go back and read it again because youíre stepping on land mines. When I told her what the reaction was, Cathy was crushed. She felt like she needed to establish a relationship? Look these guys are not your girl friends. Didnít anyone like me? Well, I was told they liked the cookies you brought and only the guys who were trying to hit on you were interested. Too many men are pigs you know.

I asked Cathy how many ride-a-longs she had done at this department. This was her eight, with 3 more scheduled. Why? Well I just like to see how the interaction is in the stations. Eight ride-a-longs in two months and 3 more scheduled. Please stop. At some point it becomes counter productive and you will run into a crew of mal contents that will bad mouth you.

Captain Bob

RE: Subject: Bunk-in programs or Bunker programs — 12/07/05

Chris -
Onondaga County Community College in Central New York has a fire science associate's degree, and some students in this program are able to bunk-in at area departments. Please contact me if you would like more information about the program or about firefighter career opportunities in Central New York. Syracuse Fire Dept. (about 350 people) may be giving a civil service test in Summer '06, and paramedics with NYS 229 certificates have decent opportunities in the area's combination departments. My email is


New Woman on the Block — 12/07/05

Hi, After being in a family of Fire Fighting for 23 years with my husband being the Chief of our Town Paid Fire Dept, he told me I could never do it. Well Ladies, I did; just completed my FF1 and am going to test In Jan. Need your support. Thanks and look forward to joining the gang.


RE: Fire Gloves — 12/05/05

You may want to check out Fire-Dex Courage gloves, they have two finger lengths available in every size:


Subject: Bunk-in programs or Bunker programs — 12/05/05

Hi I am going to be graduating High School in June 06. I wanted to become a Fire Fighter. I am looking for a bunk-in program where a college student can live at a firehouse and in return help out at the station and go on calls. I already passed Fire Fighter 1 and I am taking more courses. I need to be in NY State or the state of Pennsylvania.

Thank you,

— 12/05/05
RE: Fire Gloves

I have had luck with "direct grip" style gloves. They're not as thick and bulky as regular cuts so my fingers don't feel like they're so spread apart. They don't have the too-wide palm/too-short fingers problem I've had with regular gloves either. I wear Shelby Koala gloves. They're blue and yellow with Kevlar backs and leather fronts. Unfortunately they're pretty darn expensive.


Subject: RE: Subject: Women and the workplace — 12/05/05

Seems to me you have several options.

You could say something to her in private. As politely as you can, you could ask her to come to you with her concerns rather than blabbing to all your classmates. Or, you could remind her that it's the instructor's job, not hers, to criticize student performance. Instructors want to see teamwork and people helping each other in a positive way. They don't want to see backstabbing.

Alternatively, it may be that if you lay low, take the high road, and just keep working your hardest to learn the proper way to do things, she'll self destruct without you having to say anything. Where I am, probies who are hypercritical of others often get a reputation of being a "2-20" (has 2 years on but acts like has 20) If she keeps that jerky attitude, she may find that some respected old Jake (or Jakette) will tell her she needs to get some shine on her pants before she opens her trap. What I've noticed is that probies who keep their minds open and mouths shut fare better in the companies than whiners and know-it-alls. I think that would be doubly true for women probies, since they're under special scrutiny and subject to all kinds of preconceived notions some guys have about women ff.


Station Visits...continued? — 12/05/05

Captain Bob,

I just came upon your Station Visit one and I wanted to ask you a question. I donít act like I know it all, but I hate to say it; I am a talker I love to talk. I am very friendly but at the same time I do not like to boast about my accomplishments unless asked upon. My question for you is how do I stop myself from being a talker?

My fiancť is a firefighter also but he has been in 8 years and he is just a quiet guy who keeps to himself so it was easy for him, but I was raised in a family that talks a lot and I can't stop myself...Please help me, I just started two weeks ago with as a volunteer and I really want to be successful there and have a good reputation so that when I go to get on with my dream departments.


Station Visits — 12/02/05

Station Visits/Ride Alongs

Ride alongs can help or destroy you! Candidates want the opportunity to do ride alongs as a way of showing interest, gain information for their oral, and can say in their oral they had been to the stations. Often they donít know the culture and etiquette.

We had a candidate in one day for a ride along. He had an opinion on every topic that was brought up, including sports and the current movies. When it came time for lunch, he was the first one on his feet to fill his plate. His mother would have died from embarrassment.

Let me be blunt here. Dummy Up! You donít have enough time or experience to have an opinion! In this situation you have to be humble, have your questions already written down and realize you are a snotty nose rookie. Too many candidates come in wanting the badge so bad they act like they already have time and want to impress the guys with all of their knowledge. BIG ERROR!

This information will spread like wildfire and destroy you with those who will be making the decisions. Too many candidates tank themselves here and they never know what happened. This applies even if youíre already a firefighter applying for another department.

Donít take the bait. Even if you have a friend in the station. If the guys want to joke around and play games, donít do it. You are not part of their family yet. You have no time or experience!

Some departments donít allow ride alongs during test time. If youíre lucky enough to do a ride along, show up on time with a desert. Home made is best. If itís ice cream, make sure itís the round stuff; not the square stuff. We had so much square stuff during one of test we had a contest in the back yard to see who could throw the square stuff the furthest. After giving this information at a college fire program a candidate shows up at my station the next day. He didnít make an appointment, have desert, or have any questions ready. McFly?

One candidate told me in another class that he had made an appointment and had to wait a half hour when he got there. Poor baby. Understand this is our home. We spend more time at the firehouse than with our own family. So here you come waltzing into our home not knowing what to do.

If youíre fortunate to get a ride along, stay for lunch if offered. Offer to pay your share and do the dishes. Leave before dinner (unless asked to stay) and never spend the night. You might interfere with the kick back time during and after dinner.

Should you go to as many or all the stations in a department? Please spare us this part. Donít turn yourself inside out trying to cover all of the stations hoping the word will get back that you did. It will make you look anal and compulsive. This will raise its ugly head in the psychological test if you get that far. One or two stations are fine. If you try to do them all, it only increases the chances of saying or doing the wrong thing or catching a shift of malcontents that will badmouth you.

If youíre bent on doing a ride along, first make an appointment. During test time things get crazy. Be patient. Act like you would if you were the new rookie in the station.

Captain Bob

RE: Losing My Job — 12/02/05

I do sympathize with you and couldn't imagine not being able to fight fire any more but... I believe this is the one profession that if you are unable to complete your responsibilities 100% you should change positions. There are too many dangers for you, your fellow firefighters and your community. I recommend getting into arson investigation, safety officer or public relations for your department. There are many roles you can fill with the department that are very important and fulfilling as well.

Fire Gloves — 12/02/05

Has anyone had trouble finding gloves that fit? I wear a size small but the fingers are way to short and I can barely move my fingers at all. But anything bigger and they fall off.


RE: Subject: Women and the workplace — 12/02/05

This is a situation and profession where you will have to go face to face and nip it in the bud. You should take the high road and tell her that you not only are you aware of her snide remarks but you have witnessed her saying them. Remind her that putting someone else down and criticizing them not only makes her look bad but shows she has no future in a leadership role. If she were a true firefighter she would offer only constructive criticism and show you how to correct your mistakes. This profession is not survival of the fittest as advertised on shirts and bumper stickers. Itís a matter of utilizing your sisters/brothers knowledge, common sense and experience. Always remember:Ē All firefighter safety guidelines are written in blood, youíre not to leave a fellow firefighter behind and pass on everything you have learned onto those coming up behind you.


VFD Beauty Queens — 12/02/05

I had the strange opportunity to observe a parade in rural Virginia a few months ago. In the parade several VFD's were represented. While I noticed that there were few (if any women) represented as firefighters with each VFD contingent, each one of these departments had a female that represented the Dept. as a beauty queen, i.e. Miss (fill in the blank) VFD. Living out West- I had never heard of a VFD beauty queen.
Is this an "East Coast Thing"?

Chief Mike

RE: Stress!!!!! — 12/02/05

I appreciate your statements immensely. It is very helpful and thank you for the wonderful advice.

Renton, WA

Museum Exhibit — 12/02/05

The children's museum in our city has provided space in their museum for a fire department exhibit. We are currently collecting fire memorabilia (pictures, uniforms, equipment, etc.) for the display. I would like to add something to the exhibit that shows the history of women in the fire service. Does anyone know where I can find copies of old pictures or any other memorabilia that depicts women firefighters?


RE: Fire Gloves — 12/02/05

I am having the same issue if you go onto the fire glover corporation they can make you a custom glove. What you do is find a store in your area that is one of their dealers, then trace your hand and send it in and they will make you a custom glove. They also are the only company that makes cadet gloves, which are shorter in the fingers for us women. The number to the lady I spoke to is: (775) 724-4481 and her name is Missy. Also I forgot the name but there is a firefighter glove that they make that a lot of women buy because it is very durable. Good luck with finding the right glove I hope we both get out of this issue soon, because our hands we definitely need in this profession and when you can undo hose couplings or go to start the chain saw and it slips out of your hand you know that you have a problem.

— 12/02/05
RE: Subject: Women and the workplace

Thank you for your information Robin, but I am still nervous to say something, because she is a lot older then me even though we are both on the same level. When she makes her remarks she will make them to where they could be taken as constructive criticism, but you know that she is trying to say you screwed up by the way she words it. I donít know if saying anything will make it worse or better. Hopefully I can get to the bottom of this in the next week, because I am sick of how she acts like my friend to my face and then turns behind my back saying things.

RE: Looking to chat — 11/30/05

Hi Beth,

I am currently a student at Texas A&M in Corpus Christi. However I graduated from Old Orchard Beach HS. Anyhow I was just interested in you point of view regarding women firefighters. Do you enjoy it? How did you come about it? Pro's and Con's? Would you suggest it as a possible career for young women? If so what are some of the first steps we should take?

Subject: Women and the workplace — 11/30/05

I am having an issue at the new department I work for. We have two women and we are the one's now going through training. I am one of them. I went through the fire academy with the 5 people that I am training with. The problem is the one other woman is gossiping behind my back. When we were training the other day I was doing something and turned my back to see her saying things to other people. When we get done with the training when no one is around she always says that I did something wrong with the training we did that day; it is never anything positive. To be honest I feel like this women is saying stuff and stirring up crap and I donít know how to stop it, I have been biting my tongue for a while now, but I donít like how I have to feel like an outsider because of her. What does everyone think? My other half says he has found many women in the fire service like to gossip so it is nothing new, but that isnít good enough for me. Any suggestions?

RE: RE: Looking to chat — 11/27/05

Hey Tom,

Thanks for writing back. I work for Biddeford. Sounds like you keep yourself busy. Good luck with your upcoming endeavor in school!


RE: Fired from Volunteer Dept. — 11/27/05

Does the volunteer dept. pay workmen\'s comp? If so then your state office and EEOC can get involved, as it is and can be deemed a workplace. You must have some kind of documentation, even if it is just a written statement you do that has collaborating witnesses. The state (which you have to go through first) and the EEOC will want to know how you were treated differently in regard to gender, so you need a situation to compare your \"punishment\" to versus someone else's. It is not an easy or pleasant process and you must be prepared to be scrutinized. If there are some who will back you up then contact your state human relations office. You don't need an attorney to file a complaint, but it doesn't hurt (look for someone in employment law). Good luck, I've been through the process and will never be the same, but since then I've been reinstated, got my EMT, working on my EMT-P, and getting ready to pursue fire instructor 1. (I Got my firefighter 1 this fall and working also on firefighter 2. You can get past the situation.)

Pearce Thomas

Stress!!!!! — 11/24/05

Stress Busters
When I first became a fire officer I had to develop a stress management system as a matter of life and death. Because we never knew in the next moment where we were going. We could be part of someoneís worst day. I found that much of this same system worked in other careers and personal lives. Here are some Stress Busters:

Fire "Captain Bob" has two passions. One is putting out flames. The other is helping people extinguish stress so they can get more satisfaction and enjoyment out of their careers and personal lives.

* Take a piece of paper and draw a line down the center. On the left side, write down the stressors in your life that are inescapable. On the right side, list stressors you can escape. Just seeing and knowing things you have no control over reduces stress. Prioritize your escapable list.

* What is a "Dream Team?" A "Dream Team" consists of spouses, partners, friends, relatives, customers, employees and vendors. When people are under stress, they tend to withdraw and try to do more themselves. They are heading in the wrong direction. With "Dream Team" members, you go forward to resolve problem situations. "Dream Team" members will support you and make your life easier. Place them in the major areas of your life: Emotions (spiritual), physical body (health), relationships, business/career, and finance and wealth. Focus your energies and your dream team to eliminate those stressors you can escape. You'll end up doing more of the things you want to do.

* One of the big culprits caused by stress is people overdrawing their sleep banks. People who don't get enough sleep have lower productivity, more accidents, and are just grouchier folks. Some people don't know how it feels to be wide-awake or their old selves again. Americans are sleeping an average of 7 hours a night (a third sleep less than 6 hours) compared to 8.25 hours sleep experts say we need. Our bodies aren't fooled! You know you're not getting enough sleep if you fall asleep watching TV, in church, driving your car, at your desk, in a meeting or reading this article. Plug your dream team in to resolve your escapable stressors. You will get more sleep. "You know when you start feeling better when you think of homicide instead of suicide."

* People who are constantly under stress wear down their immune systems, have more illnesses of all types and are constantly angry and confused. But a study done by the University of Washington showed those people who maintained an active aerobic physical fitness program were virtually unaffected by health problems caused by stress. Their minds were redirected and produced wonderful endorphins. This can't happen if you're a couch or computer mouse potato.

* A good, healthy, stress free life depends on good thoughts. If you are a born pessimist, seeing everything as black, you will poison yourself and your relationships. No one wants to be with a living, black, negative cartoon. This is a bad habit you can change by your attitude. Attitude is such a small thing that can make such a huge difference. Attitude is your rudder through life. Practice not being negative for five minutes. Then, double the time. Keep doubling it until you break the habit. If you fail, start over. Once you can do this for twenty one days, your subconscious will be reprogrammed. You won't die! "Water a drop at a time will eventually float a whale."

ĒMost people donít change because they see the light . . . They usually feel the heat!Ē

Fire Captain Bob, Author

RE: Looking to chat — 11/23/05

Hi Beth:

My name is Tom, I am 32 and run with Falmouth Fire/Rescue stationed with E-3. I am a Firefighter/EMT-I with over 20 plus years of Fire Service experience and 8 years of EMS experience. I also have assisted my Uncle with his Basic EMT classes over the years, as well as being an AHA CPR Instructor and State EMS Tester. In addition, I hold an AS Degree in Fire Science from SMCC and am working on getting into SMCC for AS in Nursing. I am also currently in the early stages of trying to enlist in the Navy Reserve as a Corpsman.

Our dept. has quite a few female EMT-B's, I's and Paramedics and a few are cross-trained as F.F.

What dept are you with?

Best of luck to you.


Written Tests and CPAT — 11/23/05

How long does it usually take to move forward to a CPAT testing? I have taken two written tests thus far I have passed one.


RE: Young for a FT position? — 11/22/05

Younger candidates have credentials too!

Here's a Question from a similar candidate:

Capt. Bob,

Just recently, I began testing for fire departments in California (Predominantly Southern California). I am a fire academy graduate and I have two years of experience on a basic life support ambulance.

I am also currently testing for auxiliary and volunteer positions for added experience and my firefighter 1 cert. In January, I'm planning on going to paramedic school. My question is this... I'm only 20-year old- I won't be 21 until August. Does being this young hurt me whether or not I shine on my written and oral tests?

I don't see too many rookies this young with departments and I don't hear about people being hired this young. Just curious.



As long as you can present your package at the oral board, age should not be an issue. The problem is many younger candidates don't think they have the life experience needed. First you never tell the board your age. They won't know until the day you're hired. That's the law.

LMC, I would continue your pursuit for a volunteer position and definitely get into medic school ASAP.

I gave a presentation at Shasta Fire College. Many students didn't feel they had any experience that would apply to the position. That was until I asked several candidates to tell me about their first and succeeding jobs in life; no matter how menial it seemed. Many had paper routes, mowing lawns and working at Burger King. O.K., what did you learn? Once the answers started flowing, we heard how they learned to work hard, have responsibility, learn customer service and how to work as a team. Did you participate in sports in school? Isn't that working as a team? Do any of these areas apply to the fire service? You bet! So any time you can relate your personal life experience in answering an oral board question, you are telling the oral board that you not only know the answer the question, you have already lived it!

When the board asks what you have done to prepare for the position, don't forget to rewind the video tape of your life and create an early trail of how you learned how to work hard, have responsibility, and work as a team.

The biggest part of getting a high enough oral board score that will get you the badge is convincing the oral board you can do the job before you get it. Stories are convincing evidence that you are the match for the badge!

I knew several fire explorers who were too young to test. I attended a large department badge ceremony. One of the fire scouts got a badge on the first test he was old enough to take. You have never seen a happier rookie firefighter.

Captain Bob

RE: Firefighter injuries — 11/22/05

Hey I am new at these but I am so sorry to hear about your injury, but if you work for federal companies including the fire service, you will always get the run around with insurance, I got hurt in June 2005 and am still disabled to return to light duty work and I am getting the run around and also am told that one guy hurt his arm and he had to deal with insurance for 2 1/2 yrs. It is a major mess with the fire services insurance, but I was told to talk to a lawyer and have them threaten or scare them into suing and most of the time it will work. But I am sorry to hear that you are being screwed over by insurance, take care and get better.


Young for a FT position? — 11/21/05

I graduated paramedic school in July and went straight in the Fire Academy. I graduated in late September with my 240 certificates. I took my first civil service test last month for an EXCELLENT department that is hiring 4-6 people in the next 3 months. Being it was my first civil service test, I expected to do poorly on it considering everything I had heard about them. I just found that I placed in the top 30 and now will go on to take the psychology exam and the interview with civil service commission and then an interview with the fire chief. I just turned 21, and I have very little experience. I'm extremely nervous because I feel I don't have much to offer them. I am extremely dedicated, did very well in paramedic and fire academy, but I don't have much in the way of fire/EMS experience. Does any one have advice for the oral boards that are coming up so soon? Is it rare that candidates my age are hired by full-time departments? I am very excited about this and I don't want to screw this opportunity up. Thanks for any advice!

Looking to chat — 11/21/05

Hello everybody,

My name is Beth and I am a new full-time firefighter/paramedic in Maine. I graduated from school this past May, which puts me on the young end at 22. I am looking for fellow female firefighters to email or chat with. I am interested in how other females are making out, and possibly making new friends. I really don't know many other women that do this full-time. If anyone is interested in emailing or chatting, I'd love to hear from you. My email is I will email you back. Look forward to hearing from you.


Getting back into suppression — 11/21/05

I have been with my department for 3 years, Iím firefighter 1 and 2 certified. Well, to make along story short, my chief asked me to take a temp. spot in fire alarm for 8 weeks. Well, 8 weeks turned into 8 months. He asked me if I would stay in firealarm until he hired a permanent person. I agreed however a permanent person has been hired and he still refuses to return me to suppression. I requested 3 times to return (in writing) to suppression. The chief states that I've changed class and therefore can't return. I donít believe this to be true. I think it's because Iím the only female on my department. I want to be back in suppression. Please help!!!!!!


Fired from Volunteer Dept. — 11/18/05

I have been accused of theft and was fired from my volunteer dept. I did not steal and others who were doing the same thing I was were not fired or even reprimanded. I was shown no proof of my "theft," was denied all my records and was banned from the property and also denied any appeal. I was also told I could not sue or ask the EEOC to investigate since this is a nonprofit department. Does anyone have any experience with the EEOC in regard to nonprofit departments? For the record, I didn't steal--but I did turn in a written complaint to the chief which stated that I was being denied training by his father in law based on my gender. The father in law stated he'd get rid of me one way or another and two days later I was fired.

Losing My Job — 11/16/05

I have a situation that I would like to get some feedback on. I have been a firefighter for almost 5 years. Before I became a firefighter I had had an injury to my shoulder that had been fixed surgically. The doctors at my work certified me physically, and I passed my physical fitness assessment. However, since I have been on the department, I have dislocated my shoulder 3 times, resulting in 2 more surgeries, with a 3rd on the way. Since the last event, the doctors at my work have put a permanent 25 lbs weight restriction for the rest of my life. That restriction disqualifies me as a firefighter, and I am now being forced to find another job. I was just curious if any one had heard of or dealt with any similar situations. Where I work is a little different than most departments, and the job they are forcing me to take is a $10,000 dollar a year pay-cut. I guess I just don't think that it is right, but maybe it is perfectly legal. I don't know. If anyone has any information or comments or suggestions, or anything, I would appreciate it greatly! Thanks!


update! — 11/14/05

I apologize, I ruined the spelling of my email address, ...thanks a bunch heroes, you!!

RE: RE: Can't win — 11/14/05

Wow-in many ways it sounds like you are going through what I went through, except they wouldn't let me do anything because I was a girl. Now I have some assertiveness issues to deal with, but those are easy compared to getting my situation changed. I will tell you DO NOT GIVE IN OR GIVE UP. I was there myself just a couple of months ago. I finally hung in long enough and got moved to a MUCH better station and crew. You sound like you are having a problem with a large part of the department wide "rumor mill" and anything you do or don't do will be exaggerated. Just do your best and keep your head high. In the mean time, document specific incidents and the "result", including any disciplinary actions that are different for you as opposed to the guys. Harassment and discrimination are lose/lose situations in the long run. If you have access to Employee Assistance Programs, look into counseling to help "back you up" when push comes to shove.
In the end it is truly about doing what you love and chasing the dream that was meant for you to follow.
Hang in there-

RE: cpat — 11/11/05

Leigh, is your email address correct in your message? I sent you one about CPAT stuff and it bounced back.


Check out this link — 11/11/05

Mary Lopez

RE: Light duty/pregnancy policies — 11/11/05

Hi Shannon,
Regarding your light duty/Pregnancy Issue. My department does not have a light duty policy either - but in CA departments have to follow the Federal Standards for leave. I know that Berkeley Fire has a policy for pregnancy leave. I had it sent to me via email when I was researching light duty for my department. I hope this helps.


RE: Can't win — 11/11/05

Well I am sure we have heard this one before! I thought you were talking about me. Unfortunately the other lady was correct in telling you to document because this is harassment - you are not under a different microscope than others. You passed everything too.... unfortunately sometimes we have to take a stand and draw a line. Documentation is the best medicine. Do not tell others of your documentation. Tell your friends about things in the fire department but do not open up to anyone there. There is a rumor mill and you cannot stop it!


CPAT — 11/11/05

Has anyone heard that CPAT is not supposed to be used for pre-employment testing? People are telling me that the license states they should use the test only for "candidates" but that word is not defined in the IAFF/IAFC CPAT license.


Oral Presentation — 11/11/05

Oral Predentation

Presentation skills are everything in an oral interview. Speaking to a group is one of the top fears. Most candidates panic.

ĒEveryone has butterflies; the trick is to get them to all fly in the same formation.Ē

Your test might include making a 5 to 15-minute presentation to a panel. The topic can be assigned or you can select one from a list. You might have 15+ minutes to prepare the presentation

. ĒThe toughest thing to do in making a speaking presentation, or an interview, is to be yourself on purpose.Ē Patricia Fripp, National Speakers Association.

If you canít give a talk or go to an oral board and be conversational and yourself on purpose, you are sending someone else to do the job. According to a study done by Stanford University, 85% of getting the job is your enthusiasm. If you will light yourself on fire with enthusiasm in an interview or speaking presentation, the panel will stand up, applaud, and watch you butt burn.

This simple formula from the book ďInspire Any AudienceĒ, by Tony Jeary can help you through the process:

2. Three major points (and examples to support major points)
3. Questions & Answers
4. Summary
5. Closing

> The ďNuggetĒ here is to use K.I.S.S. (keep it simple sweetie). Most candidates complicate the presentation. They try to intellectualize the process and pack too much into their presentation. They waste time by trying to give a blue print, when all that is needed is a sketch. The I.Q. of an audience drops when a presentation is given. Stick to the formula . . . Nothing more . . . Nothing less.

Five minutes will fly by and you won't have enough time to deliver a stand up dog and pony show. Too many candidates will try to pull something off, get delayed and get time called on them just as they were getting to their best stuff.

I personally wouldnít use more than a flip chart for a presentation of less than 15-minutes. You just donít have enough time. Remember, nothing can replace the power of your words. You can use an easel with your major points with color marking pens. You can use a pencil to write your notes lightly in the margin that the panel will not see. This is all about presentation skills! Try not to stand behind a lectern. Be out in front with the panel.

Donít have your presentation set in cement. If something unexpected happens during your presentation . . . use improv and go for it. Itís not what happens in the front of the room. The real action takes place in the audience.

Captain Bob

firefighter boots — 11/09/05

I have recently joined the fire service in NC. Problem is I have small feet and have not been able to find structural boots/bunkers that will fit my feet. My department ordered me the smallest size they could find, which was a 5 in menís. They are still a little big, and hard for me to maneuver in. I wear a 6 or a 6&1/2. If anyone can help please contact me.




Light duty/pregnancy policies — 11/07/05

If anyone is working for a department that has a pregnancy/light duty policy on place, can you please send it to me, along with any comments you have? I currently work full time as a firefighter/paramedic, and my department uses the city policy about taking family medical leave for pregnancy and childbirth. There is no set policy in place about women receiving light duty for pregnancy, it is at the discretion of the cityís administrators, and they are not obligated to offer it. I feel due to our unique work environment, there should be a separate policy regarding medical leave from work for firefighters. If you have any information or ideas, please let me know.

My email is
Serious inquiries only please.
Thanks, Shannon

Results!!!!!! — 11/07/05

Have you ever listened to wind chimes? One hangs in our back yard. It contains 6 chimes. When there is not much breeze, only one chime is heard. Itís a constant monotone gong, gong, gong, gong. When the wind changes direction ever so slightly all-6 chimes begin to play a melody.

It would only take you a short time as an oral board rater to hear the same constant drone when too many candidates use a flat monotone voice. It sounds like they were giving a patient assessment, sounding like the gong, gong, gong, blah, blah, blah of the one lone wind chime.

Then a candidate, who knows what the panel is going to hear out of his mouth, because he has prepared with a tape recorder, sits down in the hot seat and comes out swinging. Hitting all the notes, with the necessary timing, inflection, enthusiasm and volume polished. Just like the slight increase in a breeze to activate all the notes on the wind chimes, if candidates only knew it would only take a few minor changes to orchestrate their interviews closer to their badges.

It doesnít take long on a phone conversation with a candidate to realize why they are having problems.

A recent candidate had such a monotone voice I asked if he knew? He said yea, but thatís just my voice. I told him I didnít believe that for a second. What can I do about it? Iíve been testing where I can for four years, going to school and work as a federal firefighter.

Trying to get on his turf, I asked him during a coaching session what do you do with your time off? What are your interest, hobbies? What really rings your bell? Nothing seemed to work to break his monotone voice.

That was until a few days later I get a call from an energized candidate. I didnít recognize the voice. Yes, it was Mr. Monotone. He told me he didnít realize how bad it was until he listened to the tape recording of his coaching session. He said, Man I sounded retarded. I canít believe how much stuff I left out. How many times I said ďWhat EverĒ and other stupid pause fillers I didnít know I was using.

The mystery of why this super qualified candidate could not get hired was solved by listening to a tape of what the panel had been hearing for four years.

You too can create the winds of change that can turn things around and ring all the chimes; coming out of the fog with the chimes that turn into tones dropping and youíre moving towards the rig on another call. The fifth call in a row. It started at shift change. You havenít had a chance to stop for anything more than to restock and get the rig ready for another run and not getting anything to eat. Youíre not hungry anyway. Because youíre working with a crew where the red-hot captain tells dispatch youíre available from the scene you are on so you wonít miss any calls. Youíre living the dream of a lifetime.

Riding big red. The monotone voice a distant memory.


"Nothing counts 'til you have the badge . . . Nothing!"

Captain Bob

cpat — 11/07/05

Hi everybody, I am new to this, but I have some questions! The idea of helping people and building a relationship with hard working people seems ideal to me. I wanted to let all of you know that I am a super fan!! .... Moving on, cpat. I know its tough stuff, what core strengths would I need to concentrate on? And if i worked my toosh off by January, think thatíd be enough time for the review? I would love all the wisdom you have, I am a little scarred.
My email
thanks, leigh

RE: Can't win — 11/07/05

"She just has to take whatever is given her otherwise she has an "attitude." You could have been talking about my day yesterday at the FD. I got singled out by the chief and B.C. for not driving the engine enough (like I get to make that call. Excuse me Lt. but I believe I will do the driving today.) then directly told "I heard you hit a curn while driving" Well, I can't lie about that one, yes, once, (and so has the guy with 12 years experience...and the guy with 15 years on..)

While trying to get some extra training, I asked one of the guys to quiz me about the equipment on a rig. Who cares if I knew 99% of it, or that I initiated extra training on my own? All the chief heard was that I didn't know where that ONE piece was. If I don't defend myself against the rumor mill, the guys assume it must be true then, and when I do defend myself, I have a "problem with authority". Women are held to a higher standard, no questions about it. I've been told that I can't just be a firefighter, I have to be a great firefighter, and even then, I'll "never be one of the guys, so don't bother trying". I'm a year on a career dept, have all the necessary training and state certifications as everyone else, but our weekly training sessions are basically a chance for everyone to circle around me to "see what the girl can do" (and have been warned that I "better know how to do it".)

I've been told that I am under a microscope more than anyone else and I should just get used to it. It is making me sick enough to want to leave this job, which is sad because I love it, I just wish I had nicer people to work with. The advice I was given by a Lt. from another FD was to document everything that has been said and done to me. I don't want to be another statistic, or another "cry baby" female firefighter either. It seems like our hands are tied huh? I'm going to my union rep. next shift day to find out what the heck is going on in my dept. Some things have GOT to change.


RE: Sensitivity Training and Securtex Gear — 11/04/05

As far as Sensitivity training, please let it be good training. A lot of these classes only lead to more hostility and an over-sensitive atmosphere. Remember that the fire station is not church, so if you are looking for a nice, wholesome place to hang out where no one says bad words or has sick humor, you are in the wrong place. You also have to be specific with what exactly you are looking for. Do you mean discrimination, harassment, general atmosphere issues, what? Training personnel will not be effective without the support of the chain of command, and the chain of command decides what training is procured. If you absolutely require anonymity, which I can understand, a detailed letter to the chief or human resources people might be the thing. Outline what you need, be clear and concise, and provide the class title or instructor name for prospective training programs. Research this completely and make sure it is what you think may be necessary. Also understand that it may change nothing.

The gear manufacturer that makes SECURITEX paid $2.8 to the family of a firefighter that died when his Securitex Gear reportedly failed him. provides some information about the findings of the College of Textiles at NC State University. We have Globe, Janesville and some remnant Firedex gear. I am the Gear Officer for our Department, and definitely prefer the longevity and fit of Globe. Janesville takes the heat well and seems to be a little lighter wearing. If you have any questions please feel free to


RE: sensitivity training — 11/04/05

Consider doing a little research as to why your department would benefit from "sensitivity" training. Present it in a way that highlights the positives for the department as a whole instead of for a particular individual or minority group. For example: sensitivity / diversity training (when done effectively) can increase quality of service through better morale and teamwork, less absenteeism, greater productivity, a better public image, increased safety, and a greater shared social acceptance among employees. You can also point out some of the negatives such as an increase in medical costs, litigation costs, negative public image, and the emotional distress (on a much larger scale than just a single individual) that a hostile work environment can lead to.

Remember, the people you will be providing this information to may never have had to deal with discrimination or a hostile work environment. Or, they may know it exists and just choose not to address it. Try to present your information in such a way that emphasizes the need for training. And since you will be doing this anonymously, pack as much information as you can in your "report" (including reference to where you have pulled your facts from) since you will not be available for follow up questions. Write yourself a list of questions that you, if you were a member of management, might ask about this topic. Include all of the answers in your report.

Two very good articles to start with are "Discrimination: More Than a Legal Concern" by Dr. Portia Rawles and "Bully for you" by Thomas M. Cunningham. You can find the website links for these articles on a message posted on 6/6/05 titled "Impact of Harassment and Discrimination".

I would send copies of your "report" and research to THE Fire Chief, The Operations Chief (if different from the Fire Chief), Human Resources/Personnel Department, the Training Section, your Labor Union, and any other department within your organization that might be able to help implement the training you are looking for. This way you have given more people the opportunity to address the issue and are less likely to be ignored. Make no mistakes; this issue affects EVERYBODY within your organization, not just one "group" of people.

One last thing - keep accurate documentation as to any harassment / discrimination which you have suffered and any steps you have taken to try to resolve the situation. These records are for your benefit if you ever have to go to court, not for leverage to pressure people with.

Best of luck to you.

RE: Update on hanging in there — 11/04/05


I'm glad to hear that you have been transferred to a more positive environment. Congratulations for hanging in there!! Well done!


sensitivity training — 10/31/05

Need some feedback here. How would one go about requesting "anonymously" having sensitivity training in our workplace?

Mentor Program — 10/31/05

Hi, I'm a career FF with 5 years on the job. I'm interested in finding anyone who would help me start a mentoring program for the CPAT and job placement in the New England area (CT specifically). My state is still greatly underrepresented and I feel that we could change that. Please contact me at

thanks, Kim

Bunker Gear — 10/28/05


Thanks for your input on the Securtex Gear. Right now the Chief is making the final decision on the gear. I just did all the legwork on Securtex and Globe Xtreme Gear. I like both and told the Chief they are both nice. Unfortunately, I don't make the final decision, but I will pass the info along to my Chief. Like you said, being a volunteer service, there is a budget and Securtex is about $150/set more than the Globe. We'll see what he decides. Thanks again!


R.I.C. Training — 10/28/05

Thanks for the input. The drill we are doing is by yourself first then two people as a team. I had extreme difficulty moving the down FF by myself. It took me around 15-20 mins to get up the two flights. Everyone else was able to accomplish this in alot less time. The big problem is raising the FF up to clear their bottle from the step and still having enough stength to move them up.


Thank-You. — 10/27/05

To all of the Lady Firefighters out there thank you for doing what you do. And the men too.


I need help getting started — 10/27/05

Hi Cathy I saw your writing on the Internet and I was just wondering how I can get started in the program. All my life I have wanted to be a firefighter and now I can. I just graduated out of grade 12 in 2004 and it seems that I just can't get started. Maybe I am scared or just don't know where to start. Can you please help me? I live in Saskatoon Saskatchewan and want to proceed in life, so if you can email me that would be great. My options for living would be in Calgary or Edmonton



18 years old and ready! — 10/26/05

Very young and ready to begin!

Hi everyone my name is McKenzie! I am obviously setting my goals of becoming a firefighter but very nervous about the CPAT! I worked at a fire department in my town as an intern for a year and now I am off at college taking my EMT and trying to get into the Northern Nevada Fire Academy. I am very young but ready to start! I am just worried about being so young! Already, I have been harassed by many male firefighters for being a female, but that will not stop me from doing what I love most and that is fighting fires! Right now I just need some good advise about getting into the academy of my dreams and blocking all the people out who say women are not meant to be in the fire service.
Feel free to email me at !

Thank you!

RE: Bunker Gear — 10/26/05


My husband is Chief of our fire department and he selected Securtex. We have used the gear for the past ten years with no problems. This past year we switched to 2F3. Our Department loves the gear I have had the same set for the past 10 years. IT has been in numerous fires and comes out like new every time I wash the gear. Most of our fire departments in our community are now switching and trying Securtex. It is a real nice gear and as a Volunteer Deaprtment we need to watch our cost. It is better than most on the market as far as durability. We are very pleased with this product if you would like I can make arrangements for you to speak to my husband he has a little more knowledge on what we use and how long it last before we purchase new sets. Send me an e-mail and let me know I would be more than glad to put you in touch with him.


correction — 10/26/05


For anyone who has thoughts regarding my posting "Trying to break in to the fire service" below, there was a typo in my email address that I didn't catch. The correct address where I can be reached is:

Mentor? — 10/26/05

I am looking for a mentor in northern, California to help me with my transition into the fire service. I am stressed out right now even though I have my EMT and firefighter I academy cert., because I have 1 year left and I get my bachelors in Criminal Justice and I am also trying to go back and get my Associates in Fire Science and at the same time I have to do a mini 6 week academy for my paid-on-call firefighter job. While I am doing all of the above I am trying to keep everything together and test to get into the fire service. I am shooting for my dream job of San Francisco Fire or Oakland Fire. If anyone is in Northern California and would like to assist me on my journey it would be greatly appreciated. You can e-mail me @


RE: RIC Training — 10/25/05

You never said if you had to do this alone or not. I am hoping not. Our department highly discourages a single FF from lifting anyone over 150 lbs by themselves. There are some big guys on my department and I asked them and they would not attempt it without help. We all carry webbing straps in our pockets for the purpose of making a "harness" to carry someone out. When two of us combine, we definitely have a great harness that gets the legs and chest with plenty of excess to carry with. Also using your legs and proper lifting techniques will go a long way. Are you being timed? Or are they just looking for resourcefulness? Be creative and use YOUR own body strengths. If you are working in a team, try to choose someone close to your own height.

Hope it helps- good luck


RE: CPAT brag — 10/25/05

Thanks for the advice Sara, it is much appreciated and I will absolutely put it to good use. I just have to chalk my first attempt up to experience and don't worry, I will be back and I'm going to pass the CPAT...then I'll be jumping for joy! :)


Trying to break in to the fire service — 10/25/05

Ladies (and gentlemen),

I have been a volunteer FF for a year and a half now, and I want to go career. Does anyone have any suggestions on how to get started and the best way to start building experience? is it worth heading back to school to get a fire admin or fire tech degree? any input would be most appreciated. I can be reached

thanks in advance!


Can't win — 10/25/05

A good friend of mine is currently in the firefighter training program in our small town. She clearly is not wanted nor accepted by the men of the program (including the chief). They hold her to a much higher standard than the men. She has passed all her tests and is working extremely hard to become certified in all areas. It has been extremely hard on her but she will never show it to the guys and she refuses to give up. Often times, the chief will yell at her to do something one day and the next day yell at her NOT to do the same thing! She can't win! It breaks my heart that she has to go through this and has no recourse. She just has to take whatever is given her otherwise she has an "attitude."

Is this the only station stuck in the 1950's? Any suggestions on what she can do to help her situation? Thanks!


RE: CPAT brag — 10/25/05

Hi Sara and everyone who responded. Yes it was a GREAT feeling to pass!!!

I agree with Sara on the grip strength. One woman failed because of the pull-down...she just ran out of time. My weakness was by far the dummy drag! So I've suggested to others to work on their leg strength and cardio.

Thanks again for the positive comments, it was a blast to pass!


RE: RIC Training — 10/24/05

Amy - I can't think of many firefighters I know, male or female, who could single-handedly move a 250+ lb ff up two flights of stairs. Usually that is a team effort. If you have two people, it's easier. Drag the ff until he/she is sitting with his/her back against the lowest step. One ff stands above and grabs under the scba harness. The other crouches down and puts one knee of the downed ff over each shoulder (yes, get your face right in the crotch). On a count of three, both stand up. You should be able to move the ff now. If you have two people to put at the top and one at the bottom of the ff, that's even better. And if you have an anchor point and can drop down a 2-1-pulley system to hook to the ff, you'll get them up even faster. I suppose, if you had great leg and back strength, you could single-handedly move them up step by step. The motion would be like doing deadlifts and would be slow. I've never tried that or seen it done. My departments focus on highly coordinated team efforts.


RE: CPAT brag — 10/24/05

Congrats Kira. Best feeling in the world isn't it?

Keep your chin up Gina. Now that you tried the CPAT, you know what areas of strength, fitness and technique you need to work on. The tips that helped me the most were practicing my sledge swing on a stack of old tires and using my legs, not my arms to do the push/pull. If you palm the bottom of the pike pole, you can raise it by bending your legs. If you grab high on the pull-down, you can just hang. Strengthening my grip was a big help since that's what was the most shot for me by the end of the CPAT. Practice by carrying heavy dumbbells or 40 lb tubs of foam.


Eating the morning of CPAT — 10/24/05

I had a great question come across my desk this week from one of my candidates. I thought I should Share it with you gals over here!:

When, what, and how much should I eat the morning of the CPAT? Would you suggest eating a candy bar or something high in sugar right before the test? What should I avoid to maximize my performance? What about fluids?


If you have a cold, or allergies: Stay away from dairy and sugar for a few days before, and the day of your test. They will increase your mucus production. Avoiding them will mean you breath easier on game day. Your nose provides 50-75% of your air intake. If it's stuffy, it can be a problem!

Try to avoid taking an allergy med like Drixoral or a Claritan because these may increase your HR or BP and make your heart jump right out of your chest! This will severely decrease your performance!

The day before: Drink 8 glasses of water evenly spaced thru the day. Eat non-processed carbs, though: brown rice, and lots of raw or lightly cooked vegetables. Also eat and lean protein (chicken/fish).

This is important:
what time of day is the test?

If it is early morning:
Get up 2 hours before the test.
Right away, eat an apple, or a pear, or 1/4 of a cantaloupe or honey dew. Do not substitute other fruit.
Also eat a couple of hard boiled egg whites. No yellows.
Drink some warm liquid. This should help you go #2, so you'll be on the lighter side.
Drink a glass of water.

Your stomach should empty from all this by the time you get to the test. On the way to the test, in the car, drink some more water and have another piece of fresh fruit (the above mentioned only).

Urinate when you get there... you'll be better off empty.

Keep water with you until right up to when you start the test. Sip it, but don't go overboard.

If the test is around noon, get up at 8, Do the above, but add a protein bar as a snack after early morning meal.

If the test is in the afternoon, plug a protein bar (or 2 if you are a big person) into your plan for lunch. This should clear your stomach in time if you eat it about 2 hours before game time. Still eat the fruit on the way to the test.

FYI: I chose the above mentioned fruits because they are low on the glycemic index. That means they will not cause a post sugar crash like a lot of other fruits: like strawberries, watermelon, bananas, peaches and such. Instead they will give a more sustained release of energy.

Drink water after your test, sipping on the way home.

Take every step toward these advantages you can ladies. This can be a very tough test for you! Some of these guys are 6'5" and 265. They are going to have it a lot easier than you. Feel free to write me and ask questions.

Best wishes,
Dr. Jen

RE: RIC Training — 10/24/05

Amy, try using a piece of 1 1/2\"-2\" tied to make a large loop. Place the loop across the front of the chest (like doubled up) with one end going under each arm. Put both ends together to form a handle. The loop will have to be long enough so that the handle part is beyond the head Takes 12\' or more. This will 1) lift the head as you lift and pull. 2) can be used with other rope or hauling setup. 3) Gives you more freedom to semi stand/crawl etc. 4) Folds and fits easily in bunker pocket. Good luck!!


Subject: Donít know what to expect — 10/24/05

I am new at all this stuff; and I have to get A physical for my VF Department, I have not been around the guys at the station for a week so I am not able to ask them this question. What I want to know is, what should I expect the Physical to be like? What are they going to make me do? I know it sounds silly but I am actually nervous about this, it is going to be on the 25 of this month so it is coming up soon. If I could get some feed back from you ladies that would be great.


co-op student jitters — 10/20/05

Hi everyone. I am currently a co-op student at a small fire dept. in Ontario, Canada. I am the only female including administrative staff in a department that has never had a female firefighter or co-op student in it's 150 history. All the guys treat me well, I have no complaints about them, but they can't really give me any guidance when it comes to making it in the fire service as a female. I am planning to go into the fire service after high school and I was hoping that I might be able to find the guidance I need here. I would be so appreciative of any support you have to offer. Thanks!


RIC Training — 10/20/05

Just wondering if anyone has any information or techniques I could try to move a down FF up two flights of stairs that weighs approx. 250 + gear?


RE: Need advice — 10/19/05

We had a similar problem in my station. The female in question had caused problems for the past year or so but nothing was done to her. When I started actively riding, she started creating problems for me. She had also targeted several of the younger male members. She had been talked to by the chief several times and things would improve slightly for a week or so. She would refuse to ride any call that I was on. We had a call about a month ago where the chief told her to get on the engine. She flipped him the finger and that was the last straw for him. I had to file a formal compliant against her at the chief's urging. My letter and several others were used to suspend her for 30 days after a formal hearing. She has chosen to not come back to the station even though her suspension is over. We are waiting to see of she decides to quit the company. It took extreme action to get her attention. She did run quite a few calls but she also pulled the I am a female stunt and the guys found it to get real old fast. Sometimes it takes extreme action to get some one's attention in situations like this one.

Bunker Gear — 10/18/05

Hi, my dept is in the process of getting some new bunker gear. Right now, we are deciding on Securtex Gear or Globe Xtreme Gear. Both have their good points. Any advice or previous experience with either one? Any help would be greatly appreciated. I need to give a recommendation to my Chief this week!! Thanks!


RE: Pregnancy issues — 10/17/05

Will your department let you work in administration during the day and ride out with the battalion at night? Or do the division chiefs have work that you could do so that you don't have to answer phones during the day? That is what we do, that way you do not lose your overtime.


RE: Need advice — 10/17/05


This young lady sounds like big trouble waiting to happen. The flirting and horseplay alone could cause problems for someone in the future. E-mail me at if you'd like some suggestions, I have dealt with a similar person in the past.


RE: Need advice — 10/17/05

The problem is she's been talked to before about her behavior, even by another female firefighter, and she just doesn't listen. She just goes ahead and does whatever she wants to anyways. She doesn't care about how she represents female firefighters. She just likes all the attention she gets because she can call herself a firefighter. Aside from first responding, she does very little on the department. Actually, add creating drama to that as well.


Re: Hello to all — 10/17/05

Hey Denise,

I am in the same boat you are, except I am 31 (!!!) and envy any 20 year old who has enough sense to get started early. I have been taking a lot of feats tests lately and it seems the #1 and #2 things that have improved my performance.

The first is leg muscle because I can do a lot with my legs and hips that men can do using upper body strength. So, even though you may be increasing your upper body, by virtue of being female, you will build muscle faster in your legs and hips. This can carry you thru ladder throw, the attic simulator, etc.

Second, a big part of why people flunk feats is not muscle--but they lose steam. Do cardiovascular and increase your lung capacity. Stamina goes as far as muscle in my book. I am 5'7", slender and not at all muscular. But I make up a lot of time in places where they guys have to slow down due to size or stamina, such as the stairs of the attic or hose roll.

So, long story short, build up your legs and lungs and exploit any areas of a feats test that you can in order to save time. That way, you can slow down on the harder parts. (the harder parts for me include dummy drag and keiser sled....)


CPAT brag — 10/17/05

Just had to spread my joy that I passed the CPAT yesterday!!! I'm still jumping up and down all over the place :)


RE: CPAT brag — 10/17/05

First I have to say Congrats! It's a very difficult test, I know because I took this last weekend but fell short just before the last event, didn't quit but I ran out of time. Totally bummed but I plan on testing again after some more training. Any advice would be much appreciated. Way to go!


RE: CPAT brag — 10/17/05

Good for you kira, I know the feeling I was on a cpat "I passed" high for a month!!!!!! Congrats! You deserve a big pat on the back.


RE: Need advice — 10/14/05

Itís a tough situation but as a woman I think its your duty to take her aside and talk to her, as you know we are a minority and her actions can cast a neg. on women in the fire service. She needs to represent women in a positive light and not hold us back. As women in the fire service most of us have worked for respect and equality and we also need to be educators, I would suggest pulling this "foot stamping pouter" aside and talking to her woman to woman.


Doing Research — 10/14/05

Hello everyone, I am not a firefighter but my husband is. Iím in school for journalism and I'm doing a feature article for one of my classes on female firefighters and hazing. Would anyone have any testimonials or information regarding this subject? I want some real life stories and anecdotes for my article. I would also love to interview someone if they are from South Florida on the issues facing women in the firefighter work force.

My name is Bethany Fox and you can email me or post a message back if you have anything that might be useful to my article. My email is


Hello to all — 10/14/05

name is Denise, I'm 20, and I'm planning to test for a department soon. I would like anyone to give me some advice on how to better prepare myself for the physical agility. Please email me with any thing that would help me.

Thanks, Denise

Not a Regular Job Interview! — 10/14/05

Many regular job and corporate interview candidates like the following are stunned and baffled why they don't have high scores on their firefighter interviews.

Captain Bob:
I just received my oral board score for the City of Glendale. The score did not represent how I felt I did during the interview. This is a big problem for me because I now realize that I DON'T KNOW what the board is looking for. I make presentations for a living, so I felt confident in what I did to prepare. I was sure that I just about nailed it.

I've always been competitive about what I set out to accomplish, using every tool that I can utilize to reach my goal. Sir, I would greatly appreciate your training to help me be the best that I can be at the oral boards.

I've been preparing for these orals for months and felt extremely prepared. I don't want to waste another oral board without knowing that I've done all that I can to be the best candidate possible. Thank you for your time Sir. Regards, Fire Recruit Jeff

Reply: Jeff, You're not alone here. You have discovered like many other's that a fire department oral board is different than anything you have encountered. Too many candidates beat their heads against the wall for years getting to the point where you are now.

Another one:

After my interview rejection an east coast city last week, I sent a letter to the D/C thanking him for the opportunity and telling him I'd appreciate any feedback from the interview. Well - he was honest - he indicated he wanted me to keep testing & interviewing, but wrote that I:

-talked too much & over answered the questions -talked too fast
-some of my answers were based on book knowledge (?)

Also - as I mentioned I approached this like I would a corporate interview (BAD IDEA) and I tried to 'close' them at the end - they asked if I had any closing questions (jeez I wish I read your web site before going in) and I opened my big stupid mouth to say 'I kept your rejection letter from last year (I actually showed it to them - this was my second time interviewing) and it mentioned that candidates had failed to prepare and properly sell themselves to the board. I've been working to improve myself in these areas for the past year - have I properly done this?'

The D/C mentioned in his letter back to me that, 'I don't think that showing the letter I mailed out last time was the best thing you could have done. It was as if you were showing it off and showing us that you still had it.' I need to keep my d*mn mouth shut and just answer the questions. Live and learn.

Fire Captain Bob

Pregnancy issues — 10/14/05

Hello everyone. My name is Tracey and I have been a fulltime firefighter in Ottawa, Canada, for almost 7 years. I am currently finishing up my maternity leave with my first child. When I got pregnant I was immediately put onto a day shift -- which I hated and tried to fight but got nowhere. I really wanted to find a job on shift. I was the first female in our department to get pregnant so it was a brand new problem. Anyway, I did my time and I have a beautiful baby boy to show for it.

This week another female on our job found out that she is pregnant. The same thing happened to her -- she was immediately put on a day shift even though she tried to fight it.

I am now considering what will happen when I try to get pregnant again. The thought of going onto a day shift again drives me crazy -- not to mention that our child care is arranged according to my shift work.

I am wondering if any of you have any suggestions as to what your departments do for pregnant female firefighters -- there must be some sort of shift work available.

Thanks for the help,


Need advice — 10/12/05

I'm on a volunteer dept. and we have a problem with one of our members. She is very immature for her age, always wants attention, she will say stupid things to get everyone to take notice and get distracted from what they are doing, horseplayís around and flirts with some of the other firefighters, plays the "I'm a girl so treat me different" card, pawns off her tasks on others (even though she is physically strong enough to do it herself... just lazy) . To make matters worse, she has gotten onto a paid department and now thinks she knows everything. When we do something, she says, "that's not how we do it at..." It's getting really annoying. She has so much potential, and will be a great firefighter... if she just stops acting immature. She has on several occasions stamped her foot and pouted like a little girl and tried to act all cute. I kid you not! The chief has tried to resolve this, but I don't think it's working.

Any advice?



RE: hello — 10/11/05

Hi Maelike,

Iím Sarah. Iím 14 from the U.S. (PA) I would to talk to you and any one else too if they want to.


Looking for Joni, an EMT — 10/11/05

Does anyone here know Joni Oliverios (or Oliveros)? She previously worked at the Navy Supply Center San Diego, but I understand that today she is an EMT with the city. She used to live in the North Park area with her mom (Nancy?), but now has a 20-year-old daughter and may be living elsewhere in the city. If anyone knows her, please with updated information about Joni. .



Younger Candidates — 10/10/05

Younger candidates have credentials too!

As long as you can present your package at the oral board, age should not be an issue. The problem is many younger candidates don't think they have the life experience needed. First you never tell the board your age. Too many candidates begin with, "Hi, my name is Jeff Johnson, I'm 20 years old and want to be a firefighter." I'm surprised by how many actually look older.

I gave a presentation at a fire college. Many students didn't feel they had any experience that would apply to the position. That was until I asked several candidates to tell me about their first and succeeding jobs in life; no matter how menial it seemed. Many had paper routes, mowing lawns and working at Burger King. O.K., what did you learn? Once the answers started flowing, we heard how they learned to work hard, have responsibility, learn customer service and how to work as a team. Did you participate in sports in school? Did you letter? Captain of the team. Isn't that working as a team? Do any of these areas apply to the fire service? You bet! So any time you can relate your personal life experience in answering an oral board question, you are telling the oral board that you not only know the answer the question, you have already lived it!

When the board asks what you have done to prepare for the position, don't forget to rewind the videotape of your life and create an early trail of how you learned how to work hard, have responsibility, and work as a team.

The biggest part of getting a high enough oral board score that will get you the badge is convincing the oral board you can do the job before you get it. Stories are convincing evidence that you are the match for the badge!

I knew several fire explorers through our department who were too young to test. They were using this time to learn how to take a firefighter interview. At a large city badge ceremony one of the fire scouts got a badge on the first test he was old enough to take. You have never seen a happier rookie firefighter.

Fire Captain Bob

Can You pass on my email address — 10/10/05

My name is Tom Ryan, I am a 32 y.o. FireFighter/EMT-I from Falmouth, Maine. Having women in the Fire Service is a welcomed addition and I hope that more will apply.

I am looking for pen pals from all over the US and the World who would be interested in becoming friends, trading patches, t-shirts, info and stories.

I can be reached at

Look forward to hearing from you.


History project - WFS — 10/07/05

I am a career firefighter with the City of Berkeley in California. My son Tyler is 11 years old and doing a History day project about women in the fire service. The theme is "Taking a Stand". He has developed a questionnare that he and I are hoping women firefighters will respond to this questionnaire. Please feel free to also include personal stories that may be pertinent to the taking a stand theme. Thank you all in advance for your time and efforts. The questions are:

1. How long have you been in the fire service? Which department do you serve with?

2. Please explain the physical abilties testing you had to do when you were hired.

3. Has that testing changed at all since you were hired?

4. What was the hardest part of the training (for you)?

5. What problems (if any) did you encounter while working that you believe related to you being a woman?

6. How were you treated when you first came into the fire service? Are you seen differently now that you have been a firefighter for a while?

7. Why did you decide to become a firefighter? Did you meet resistance or acceptance in your decision from family or friends?

8. Do you see yourself as a role model for the women of today? What do you think that you are showing or teaching them by being a firefighter?

9. Do you see yourself as "taking a stand" in history?

10. If your daughter wanted to pursue this line of work, what would you tell her?

Please e-mail your responses with "Forward to Tyler" in the subject line. They will be sent on to us (and not posted here).

Are women firefighters allowed to enter burning buildings? — 10/07/05

In Indiana I know of no such restriction. The women go through the same training as men and are expected to do their jobs. The only limitation women have on our department is when we are pregnant and everyone gets a little uneasy if you want to fight fires. They would prefer we do EMS only or go to light duty.


Are women firefighters allowed to enter burning buildings? — 10/07/05

I know that where I work in Texas, unless there is a medical reason not to, all firefighters, whether female or male, are expected to enter burning buildings for rescue and extinguishment. It is why we do what we do: to save lives and property. It is what we are trained for. I thank God every day that being a woman in the fire service isn't like a woman in the military: I get to see combat time!!!


My problem — 10/07/05

I have a problem and I'm not sure how I should look at it. One of my friends is in the the public safety field, and she told me that it's hard being in that field because the guys look at you as either a girl with a bad attitude or they question your sexuality. Is this true and if so how do you deal with it?


Hostile work environment — 10/07/05

I would like to inquire about same-sex harassment on the job. I have worked in the fire service for 10 years and I continue to experience and have directly been told by a supervisor in the past that they have had " explicit" dreams about me.

I am now looking to end my career, due to the lack of integrity and imposed ego in order to confront an issue that we tuck under the rug. Granted, many women experience only one form of sexism and if you do not agree with "certain" people or their behaviors - you will exist with intimidation or hostile daily environments. This is happening in the fire service amongst women. I have endured and been steadfast long enough, now I ask this board to respond. Am I the only one? And is that what being in the fire service means for women? Hurdles from the "guys" and now from the "gals"? Can't we just work for a common interest? Or is it about emerging to the top without considering the trail of damage behind you?


Update on hanging in there — 10/07/05

Well, after a couple months of misery, it looks as though I am getting a new lease on the career I love! I found out today I am being moved to another station, and not just any other station but the main station downtown!! This is where our department trains fire dispatchers (which is great since I still have 'radio fear'), most fire fighters 'swing' or fill in at other stations from this station, and it is the busiest station. I may not get a raise in pay, but to me it is a STATUS promotion, and perhaps an indicator of how good at this I really am, or could be with the right leardeship, since this is the home of the 'A-team'. Thanks to everyone for your words of encouragement, because I may have thrown in the towel if I hadn't had others who had walked this road to share with.


Muster — 10/07/05

Hi there, does anyone in the New England area want to train for the ESPN firefighter games? I think it would be fun. Contact me if you are interested. Serious inquires only, please.


RE: Harassment — 10/07/05

First, I want to say that you are experiencing the next level of women being in the fire service. I am right there with you. Thankfully, we had incredible women precede us, yet we now confront another hurdle: the covert environment of sexism and hostility. There is no solution unless it clearly falls into "litagtion status" which has not figured out that we are in a unique industry with unique environments. Until more of us speak up about the experiences we are having which fall into policy violation, the more disservice we are doing.

I appreciate that you are asking. There are options. And I understand what covert crap which goes beyond the small minded comments or brief stupid actions. In time that resolves. when we have a fire that humbles the best of us, and you emerge in the reality of "we are firefighters." Period. Male or female. When the crap hits the fan we (women) are there. It's about skill and smarts.

The area that you are talking about has made me question my own fire service career. And that is sad. I worked my ass off to be promoted to Captain, and now I find myself stopped by politics, lies and agendas. How do you undo that, well, forget all of that? The union won't rock the issues unless you matter. And in these times of budget constraints, forget it. As far as law, well, you have to somehow go around the fear of "damage down the road" meaning wanting promotions or a positive regard. And us gals can be just as bad as guys.

I do offer you this: we can bring to the fire service integrity! The across-the-board acceptance of ability and potential for promotion. If we stay focused on what we can do, and suport, God help us... it has to change. But I have to say that the incredible people ahead of us- 15+ yrs. well, they either know what I am saying and are in this with us, or they decided to by in that "we" (women) are accepted and became silent or dodged the reality of the fire srevice because they became a chosen politic launching pad! I ask you and myself and all of you to stand up and make it better for those behind us. Because we bring to the fire service an important and unavoidable dimension!


RE: What should I do? — 10/06/05

What's your Competitive Advantage?

Every Saturday there is a farmer's market in our town. Many booths sell strawberries. There is one strawberry booth though that has a long line until they sell out. If you asked anyone in the line that is a half block long, they would tell you that these strawberries are the best. People stand in line for up to 20 minutes. What makes these strawberries better?

Well, it is know that once strawberries are picked, they will not get any sweeter. So this farmer only picks his berries at the peak of their sweetness. One or two days later these berries would go to mush. But, this farmer knows he can pick his berries at their peak and have them sold the next morning. He also piles on extra berries as he bags up your purchase. This is his competitive advantage.

What are your uniqueness and competitive advantage in getting a badge? Something that is going to make you stand out among the other (strawberry booths) candidates? Is it your special uniqueness to take a program from inception to completion? Your long trail of customer service? Team concept? Strengths? Really learning how to take a firefighter interview. The burning desire to continue when others' would quit?

Your special uniqueness doesn't have to be firefighter related. As a matter of fact, those candidates that can weave their personal life experiences into their oral board answers run right by the other "Clone" candidates.

A medic in a large city soon realized there was a large population of Vietnamese citizens. To help him in the field he started taking Vietnamese at the community college and practicing it in the field. He soon became fluent. Guess what? This city realized the same thing. So in addition to giving a special Spanish speaking qualifying fire-hiring list they started a Vietnamese speaking list too. He passed and was hired!

The point here is start writing down your special unique qualities that will give you that competitive advantage on your oral board game day that will inspire the board to say we want to hire this person. It can happen just that fast when you know what it is for you.

"Nothing counts 'til you have the badge . . . Nothing!"

Captain Bob

hello — 10/06/05


I'm a 22 years old firefighter from Holland. I like mailing with other woman firefighters of the world.


RE: What should I do? — 10/05/05

We are hiring the people who prepare for their tests. No matter your color, size, upbringing, social standing or religious affiliation, you are in a competition with only one person, yourself.

I have seen people get hired a week after their 18th birthday, and heard people say we donít hire people under 20.

Iíve seen a guy get hired at 47, and heard people say we donít hire people over 40.

Iíve seen people get hired with a high school diploma and their smile, and heard others say we donít hire people without a degree.

Iíve seen a little, and I mean little, girl get hired on an all male department, when others were saying they donít hire women.

Iíve heard your hiring can depend on where the chair is in the room. Iíve heard it makes a huge difference what color suit you wear, what kind of paper your resume is on, your time on a pass/fail physical agility is told to the raters and impacts your score. I had one guy tell me that he heard the raters go out and look into your car while you are waiting, to see if itís clean.

Stop listing to people who donít know, and listen to what you know is the truth. You get the job by coming out high enough on the list to get into the academy. With most tests being 100% oral, that doesnít leave must discussion about how to get there. Nail your interview=get a job. Mystery solved.


Subject: what should I do? — 10/04/05

I'm 17 yrs. old and a senior in high school. I have wanted to become a firefighter ever since I can remember. I have had people tell me Iím a female and will not be able to make it. My family isnít really behind me on my decision to become a firefighter but this is what I would like to do. I have been on ride-alongs with the local fire dept. and I love it. I think this is the right job for me. I need advice about what to do and how I should go about getting started. You can e-mail me at


RE: Are women firefighters allowed to enter burning buildings? — 10/04/05

In Indiana I know of no such restriction. The women go through the same training as men and are expected to do their jobs. The only limitation women have on our department is when we are pregnant and everyone gets a little uneasy if you want to fight fires. They would prefer we do EMS only or go to light duty.


Subject: RE: Seasonal pay — 10/04/05

The 21,000/year for a GS-4 is for a full year of work. However, as a seasonal, you will not be working the full year. How much work you can expect is determined by the type of position you have. Is it a temporary, "1039" position, or a permanent seasonal position? How many pay periods are you guaranteed? Look over the vacancy announcement again and then call the contact person on that vacancy to determine how long you can expect to work. As a seasonal, you cannot expect to make $21,000 in base pay, although you might make that much with overtime and hazard pay.


RE: Are women firefighters allowed to enter burning buildings? — 10/04/05


Yes, women are allowed to enter burning buildings--we can even be first in if we are lucky enough to get the nozzle. We are expected (and trained) to perform as any other part of the crew--male or female. There really aren't any "rule of thumb" restrictions for women. At least not where I work.


RE: what should I do? — 10/04/05


My name is Beka. Iím a female firefighter. Iím working on my 3rd yr. on the job. I think you should go for firefighting if you want to. I hate that your family isn't supporting you, but it makes you a stronger person. You will have a tough time with discrimination, see a lot of people and men think it is still a ďmansĒ job. I have problems like this out of men and other subjects, but I don't let it get to me. See I know I can do my job and God knows I can do my job, so I just ignore their ignorance. I hope you go strong at it and please don't give up!!!! Email me if you would like, Iíll be here for you.

My Yahoo messenger is: firegirl1485. IM me if you would like. Good luck. May God bless.

" Ladies, lets roll"!!!!


Are women firefighters allowed to enter burning buildings? — 10/03/05

I'm doing a paper on women's rights for an English class, and someone told me that women firefighters were not able to enter fires, or at least not able to enter the fire first. I was wondering if this was true? Or if there are any restrictions put on women firefighters that are not put on the men.


RE: Breast Feeding On duty — 09/28/05

Breast-feeding is the most beneficial thing you can do for your child both mentally and physically. There is nothing more beautiful than the bond that forms between a baby and its mother during that time.

My wife breast-fed both of our kids for almost a year. When we were done we started them on all organic foods. We felt that, even in trace amounts, toxins shouldnít be something a baby gets in its food.

Here is my concern. What happens to a motherís milk in the days after her being exposed to toxins in a structure fire or haz-mat incident? I went to a hot spring four days after a fire and everyone in the sauna could smell the smoky stink coming off of me. This was after 4 or 5 showers and an Epson salt bath. Not only does the skin hold onto the toxins you are exposed to, but if you were to get one whiff of the smoke from a car fire, dumpster fire, or during overhaul with your mask off, what would be in the milk? If my wife ate garlic, the next day the babies diaper smelled like it. What goes into the mom goes into the baby.

Possibly putting up some milk in case you are exposed to something, or making other arrangements through the La Leche league would be a possibility. Just something to think about, there very well may never have been any studies done in this area since nursing mothers havenít been in the fire service for that long.


Subject: What do I do now? — 09/28/05

I previously posted this:

I have been on a volunteer department for 6 years, serving as 2nd Lieu., 1st lieu. and Lieu. The Captain I served as Lieu. Under was a very unintelligent person, and I did ALL his duties for him, because he was mentally incompetent to do any of them. I ran against him for Captain, and not only did I not get the Captain's position, they put a lesser-trained person in the Lieu. spot. I was elected to the financial secretary position (which I have held for the last 4 years). I was quite angry and have stopped going to fire calls, and other functions. In the past 5 years males have stopped showing up and have not been asked to resign positions, or sent any communications regarding their intentions toward their positions. After 4 months, I have been sent a letter requesting I appear and state my intentions toward the position of Fin. Sec. I will be losing the points for the year for the service award if I resign the position. The Male that did the same thing was given the points for his position for 4 years before any letters or demands were sent. What do I do? My husband has been a member for 16 years and has resigned due to the way they are treating me. I don't want to just resign the position.

Update: I did the right thing and resigned the financial secretary position. Three male members who stopped coming to calls were put on "leave of absences" recently (without their asking for the leave). I requested a leave, and was sent a letter that in order for me to have a leave granted, I would have to turn in all company equipment, per our bylaws. The other 3 males were not asked to turn in anything.

I attempted to find an attorney, but it seems since there is not much money involved (just the LOSAP money when I am 65), no attorney wants to do anything. I will probably just not respond to their letter, but I feel like these guys are getting away with screwing me. I also don't know how to deal with the angry feelings this whole thing keeps dredging up.

Any Ideas?


RE: Help — 09/26/05


I know that a lot of people have responded but I had the same problem. I was having trouble in the academy in spring throwing my Ladders I am 5'5 140 pounds. Size does not matter my friend was 5-0 and she threw that ladder like a stud.

Girl, my friend and me are both going to be paid-on-calls like you. During finals out of all the other people we got picked out to keep throwing our ladders by the captain. I threw my 24 foot by myself 4 times the night of finals and my time of course got worse each time. But I remember on the last time the ladder started shaking out of my hands when I was about to throw it and the Captain looked at me and I said I can do it and yes I did even with it falling and feeling like I had nothing left. He ended up making me and my friend come out on motherís day in the pouring rain to throw ladders in the morning. We came down to the station and threw the ladders in the amount of time we needed and then were told by another instructor that we were being picked on because we were paid-on-calls, but he went on to tell us this is only the start of you girls dealing with this B/S in the fire world and you proved by coming in this rain that you donít care what obstacles are put in your way you are going to do it.

In a nutshell what I am trying to say is donít think that your captain is out to get you. If you have that mentality you wont go far in the fire industry. Try to think of it as fuel to your fire to prove him wrong. You donít want to sound like a cry baby (as I did until I realized in the academy) you need to be strong and keep coming down if you need to and find out the techniques that work for you. My friend and me are only 5 inches apart in height and she has to throw the ladder different then me but that is ok because she does it safe and gets the job done. When it falls down to it, it is all about getting the job done...right. So hold your head up get mad and throw that ladder like you have never thrown it. Like they say it takes doing something 60 times the same way to get that muscle memory.

Good luck and donít give up like I almost did. You have made it this far why let a Captain keep you from your goals and dreams?

If you have any questions, I am younger like you so we can relate you can e-mail me:


RE: Help — 09/23/05

Bottom line and cold blunt truth, you have to prove yourself, there are always going to be people out their trying to bring you down, not just in the fire world. If I were you I would dedicate all my time to ladders, practice, practice and practice some more. Get a buddy ask for help. People tend to respect people that ask for help and that are willing and wanting to improve their your captain what youíve got, you have to earn respect and trying and not to give up is going to get you there. I know you can do it, keep it up. You may be only 5 '2 and 19 but you are young and able. Start hitting the weights and get strong, show people what youíve got. Chin up!


help — 09/23/05

There is a possibility that this captain is not out to get you, but instead he wants to make sure he has a crew that all can meet the minimum standards.

First of all, as a full time firefighter, we as a group ride the paid on call/volunteers pretty hard. This is not because we do not like them, but that we are pushing them to do the best they can. In a Para-military organization this is how new people are brought into the group. I am sure that they all know how often you show up. If anything, that would be why I would want to make sure you can do you job well. I would want the people who show up most often to be a person that I could count on. If a captain has to remember what the weaknesses of every person on the fire ground are, it would make their job far more difficult.

If I were to go out and try for a position on the Oakland Raiders football team, they would first have to find out if I could do the minimum. It would be nothing personal, but they would tell me that my 140# body would be destroyed the first time I went out on the field to play. We have minimum standards in the fire service also. Everyone is good at some things and not at others. Some people can take out a door with one kick, but not fit into the attic. I may not be able to lift as much as others, but I can fit through the rafters in the ceiling with my breathing apparatus on. There is a gal on my department that doesnít weigh all that much. I have seen her on a hose line and she just goes up and puts her back against the wall before she turns on the hose.

Most of the women I have seen that have problems with physical things are having a problem with upper body strength. You can work on that. Donít let this discourage you, but be something that motivates you to do better. You will probably never be somebody that can dominate on ladders, and neither will I. But if you are able to learn the proper techniques, and build up youíre strength, you can do it well enough to get by. There really are not a lot of times when you need to throw a ladder by yourself in an emergency, but when it comes up it is very important.

On a side note, in my experience I see more smaller people retire from a full career than the bigger guys. I have always had to use proper techniques and ask for help when I needed it. The people that have gone their whole lives grunt-lifting things have a habit of breaking when they get older.


Anne/Ladder throw — 09/23/05

Practice your ladder throw. And, get into the gym. Here is an idea I have used a lot:

(warm up first!)

1. Do a super set of the 2 below exercises. Don't rest between, go one right to the other. Start out with 4 sets and work up to 8.

Set one: Squats: use the Smith Machine. Put a 25 on each side to start (after a month, go to 35's and a month later go to 45's). Lower slowly, like on a count of 6 to tabletop legs (90*/90*). From there, explode to straight but not locked. Do 20 reps the first set. After that, go to failure.

Move directly to: Overhead Press-ups with a plate. Again, start with a 25, (after a month, go to 35, and another month go to 45). Hold the plate in front of you, angled out from your chest... right under your chin... hands palm in, shoulder width apart. Back edge of just below the top of the sternum. Push up quickly until your arms are almost locked. Lower slowly, a count of 6. Go to 20 the first set, and to failure after that.

Unfortunately, you are always going to run into some people who think you are less. Thankfully, it is not always the case. You are going to have to swim upstream a lot during your career. This just means that if we want equality, then we have to perform equally. Be tough. Be tougher than he is. And mostly, never let him see you sweat (him).

You have not reached muscle maturity yet. You have 9 years to get there. You will get there!

If there's anything that is not clear here, you can e-mail me or send me a message of any type.

Dr. Jen

RE: Help — 09/23/05

Often, many donít realize that itís not just strength. The ĎNuggetĒ is technique, momentum and grip.

I agree with Rosie. Get a buddy to team up with. What firefighter wouldnít want to puff out their chest showing his or her special techniques that got them their job or help on the fire ground? One of our candidates was losing sleep over the uncertainty of not being able to throw a ladder. These fears were put to rest after teaming up with a buddy that showed the needed technique.

With ladder throws, itís gaining momentum and a continuous movement from beginning to end of the throw, using a pivot point and the weight of the ladder to your advantage. Walking a ladder is using a pivot point and the weight of the ladder to your advantage. When raising the fly, pull the rope in short hand over hand movements in front of your face not much higher than your head. On each grip of the rope, turn your fist palm down to improve your grip. Keep one foot planted at the spur (bottom one side or the other) keep the other foot back for balance. Slightly tilt the ladder towards the wall for balance as you raise it.

ĒYour worst experience could be placing the best ladder at the wrong location.Ē

You can find out more techniques here:

Captain Bob

Help — 09/22/05

I have been a paid call firefighter for about 6 months. I had an academy and tested to finally get my pager and be allowed to go on calls.

I have this one captain who has always made me feel like he didnít want me around. He made me feel like I was never good enough. I had to work on a shift with him and he knows where my weak spot is. I always had a tough time with ladders, but I manage to get by and can throw them. The problem with the one station I worked at, I have never been able to throw the ladder there. So now he went to my training officer and told him I was a danger to myself and others.

The part that makes me so mad about this is that I am the only paid call firefighter that shows up to calls. I work so hard for my department and now I have a captain that seems like he is trying to get rid of me anyway he can. I understand that I need to be able to throw a ladder at anytime. It was a skill that I shouldnít have forgot to practice. I just need a little bit of practice to have it perfect again. Im not going to give my turnouts up because of my one captain.

If I felt like I would endanger myself or others, I wouldnít be there. I just donít know how to deal with this. I donít want to bring it up to my training officer that my one captain is out to get me, but at the same time I think itís playing a large role in it. I kind of feel like it has to do a little bit with who I am also. Iím 5'2''and 19 years old. People donít look at me and think Iím a firefighter. No one ever takes me seriously because of the way I look.

I was just wondering if anyone had any suggestions on how to deal with this.

I have to have a chat with my training officer on sat. He said I donít have anything to worry about yet.

Thanks so much. Be safe and take care


Seasonal pay — 09/21/05

I was talking to a lady from the Forest Service about seasonal firefighting, and she said that I would get paid at the G-4 level. The G-4 level is around $21,.000. Now what I want to ask is, is that for a season, or for a year of working? What do people get paid a season? I knew I should have asked her this but I was not thinking of it at the time.


RE: Interview — 09/21/05

I think it would be a mistake to bring it up in an interview. First of all, the panel obviously knows you are a woman, and also must be familiar of the different skills you may be bringing to the job.

You never know who will be sitting on your panel and you wouldnít want to have someone interpret what you say as, ďYou should hire me BECAUSE I am a womanĒ while that is not what you said, it may be how some see it.

The fire service seems to collect a very odd group of people in our ranks, and you just never know what kinds of people are sitting on the other side of the table from you, what their motivation and feelings are.

Say for instance you were to say, ďIf I was on scene of an emergency and there was a woman hurt, she could identify better with me, and I could provide a better service to her than a manĒ a very true statement. Compare it to ďI am a man of color and if there is a person of color that is hurt I could give better service to them than a white personĒ again probably a true statement, but it could be interpreted in a way that is not what you intended.

The people sitting on your evaluation panel have been on the job a while and they have seen how men and women behave differently on a call. You donít need to tell them that. Simply go into your interview and tell them about your education, experience what kind of a person you are, and what an asset you could be to their department.


Discrimination — 09/21/05

No comment.

Fla. Chief Bans Women Firefighters From Burning Buildings.

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- The city's fire chief has ordered women firefighters to temporarily stay out of burning buildings amid threats that their male colleagues might not protect them.

More here


Female liaisons — 09/21/05

I'm a female firefighter working on my AA degree in fire science and have to write a paper for a company officer class. The topic is finding a policy/system/process to improve communication within a workgroup or organization. My department has made some major decisions without consulting any of the female firefighters and has not been concerned about how the decisions affect us. I am looking for information about how other departments deal with similar issues. The women on my department have considered instituting a female liaison to run ideas past, get a woman's insight, etc. Does anyone have something like that or have any further information?


Subject: Interview — 09/19/05

I was wondering if anyone used the fact that they were female and how it might help to have a female on scene in some capacity in their oral board interview or if you think I should.



CPAT tomorrow — 09/19/05

I got a great question from a candidate that might help anyone with the last minute jitters:

Taking my CPAT Tomorrow! Been working out for it. Shut down my workouts Thursday. Been relaxing and stretching. Even got a leg massage.

I am really nervous. Hope I get some sleep tonight!!! I'm sure the veterans of the CPAT are laughing at me. But, itís my first one. I just hope I do well. Any hints?


If you get that worked up, there are a few things I have done in the past in that situation that made things worse, so I'll tell you in advance so you won't make those mistakes.

Coffee... that really makes some people's blood pressure and heart rate go up very high. Don't drink any. Make sure you get enough sleep so you won't need it to wake up. Do drink something warm in the morning, though, as you'll feel lighter, faster and better with empty lower GI tract.

Allergy meds... for many they have the same effect as coffee, so avoid them. To avoid any problems with that type of thing, drink 3-4 glasses of lemon (a quarter of a lemon squeezed in each) water today. This will cut the sniffles like nothing else. Also avoid any dairy products AT ALL today. (They increase mucus production in most people)

You'll be fine. You've trained hard (sometimes too hard) and you are prepared. Read through the station summaries I told you about before, and get your head set about each one.

Visualize yourself doing the whole thing, over and over, every step of the way... all the way to the finish where you have over a minute to spare. Remember, you need to move on to each step as if you've done it dozens of times, no hesitation.

You'll do fine!

If I can do it, you can do it. No doubt.

Dr. Jen

RE: Volunteer fire fighting — 09/15/05

I belong to a Volunteer fire department in Rural upstate New York. I know most of our volunteer departments around here don't have set shifts. We have pagers that go off when our station's sirens are tripped and it tells us where and what we have. A lot of people refer to it as being on duty 24/7, but if we get a call and say you are at work or in class, it is not required that you go. You make the calls that you can, when you can. A lot of the time, depending on where you are when the pager goes off, you may not even be able to respond to the station, it is not uncommon to drive our own personal vehicle to a fire scene, and other people that were closer to the station gets the trucks.

If I can be of any more help to you e-mail me:


Greetings from Germany — 09/15/05

Hi there!

I'm a 19year old fire fighter from Germany and I just found your homepage!

Be blessed


RE: South Beach Diet — 09/14/05

I have been seriously working out for 5+ yrs now. I have tried several diet fads and what not, I can assure you that South Beach is NOT the way to go. I also strength train and I recently passed my CPAT, working out is my "hobby", I keep up on all the newest fitness news.

Youíre not going to want to hear this but eat clean and eat frequently. Give up the juice, soda, fried foods and white flour. Start eating protein and "good" carbs at every meal. Whole wheat breads/pasta, brown rice (not instant), veggies, yogurt, lean meats/turkey & chicken, a good rule if you are trying to build muscle and lose fat is eat more protein, you should consume one gram per lb. of body weight, so if u are 130lbs, try to take that much protein in a day. 5 small meals makes you eat less and speeds up your metabolism. Never skip breakfast; I can go on and on, so feel free to e-mail me. I highly recommend Oxygen magazine, itís the #1 fitness mag out there, no fluff, real women with real fitness goals.


Testing after pregnancy — 09/12/05

Hey Melissa,

I just had a baby in May and am beginning to train again for the CPAT. I'm in Colorado Springs. I think you should go for your dreams because that is what will make you a great mom. If you're happy and healthy, you'll be all the better for your son. Don't think of it as putting your life in danger; anything can happen to anyone at any time. At least in the fire service, you're all a team; you take care of each other, just like family. Go for it and let me know if you want to train together.

My email is


South Beach Diet — 09/12/05

I was wondering if anyone has tried or knows anything about the South Beach diet? I am trying to gain muscle and loose fat that I have gained since the fire academy and I am evaluating if this is a good diet for us women firefighters?

Also if I start doing this diet I ordered the CPAT DVD and will be doing this workout to whip my body back into shape.

I also wanted to know if anyone has used this diet after having a child because I plan on having two little ones in the future. Any comments would be greatly appreciated.


RE: announcement — 09/12/05

You know, before I chose firefighting as my career path I used to be a little skeptical of my significant other at the firehouse. So how I eased the fact that he was in the firehouse with other women was by going down there and meeting everybody. The funny thing is I got so tight nit with the women that they invited me to the FDIC with them in 2005.

All I can say from experience is I don't have the same problem, but my friend did while she was in the academy her husband didn't understand how a house wife could be gone so long and accused her of cheating. My friend and I have since evaluated the issues that arose and the problem was she was not including her husband by introducing him to the fire service and all of her fellow firefighters to let him know that we are all human and are there to fight fires not screw up our marriages.

So in a nut shell I think you should start inviting him to the firehouse more with the little one and making him feel almost as if they were his second family also and letting him know he can contact you at anytime he pleases and reassure him of your love for him and the wonderful little miracle that you both made. I hope this has helped you even though it is not exactly the same situation.

If you have any other questions you can e-mail me @

RE: announcement — 09/12/05

Hello Jessica,

CONGRATS on your little girl! How exciting!

I have to tell you that I had the same problem with my fiancť. He was great when I first met him. He thought that I had a great job and that it fit me perfect. Then we got engaged and then he started easily teasing me about the guys I work with until he blatantly started questioning me. I tried and tried to tell him to trust me and that I love him. I even explained to him that every one on my crew is happily married, many of the wives I am good friends with. This went on for a while, until I decided to have him ride along for a day. He got to experience what it was like for me at work and how we all work together like a family. I think that the key is to keep your guy part of the fire family. I have found that with men, being the significant other of a firefighter it is a lot harder than it is for women. It could be an ego thing or it could be a protection/jealousy thing that guys have that we don't.

I hope this helps. It is a hard position to be in and can make life a lot more stressful.

Good Luck and best wishes,


RE: civil rights/ wrongfully suspended volunteer — 09/12/05

Ask for a copy of your personnel file, and any documentation related to your firing and your initial complaint. Call the EEOC and ask to make an appointment to file your complaint. Bring every document related to your firefighting and the firing (Be Organized!) The EEOC will either ask the department to sit down in negotiations, or they will not find the department at fault. If that happens, you will receive a notice for your right to sue and you can take that notice to a lawyer.

Good luck!


RE: announcement — 09/12/05

Put him in turnouts, strap on an scba and make him climb some stairs. Tell him if you were out boy-chasing, you could sure find an easier occupation.


RE: South Beach Diet — 09/12/05

The South Beach Diet, in the end, is just good old-fashioned smart/healthy eating. The plan gives you a little bit of information at a time, as that is all the normal person can process and apply properly.

The key is change: real change that is permanent. Over a lifetime, it is good to learn the principles taught in it, and apply them so that is it a lifestyle change, not a DIET.

The word DIET signifies depriving yourself of things you want/need. The South Beach diet does not do that (after the first 2 weeks) in my opinion. Looking at it, I think it's a good plan, but, the first 2 weeks might not go too well with the CPAT/Fire it Up Training plan because you might need more food. If you feel tired, jittery, weak, or flat, you'll be the first to know.

How much weight do you really want to lose? This society gives us women this crazy idea of what we are supposed to look like. Let me tell you, doing the job you are setting out to do does not equal looking like Jennifer Aniston. Too weak, too skinny.

So, you are just going to have to get over form and concentrate on function.

If you are training hard, and properly, you will increase your muscle mass, and your metabolism. Your fat will melt away. Don't deprive yourself of good, healthy food, just sugar, saturated fat, processed food (like flour) and especially hydrogenated fats.

Eat your fruits and veggies raw as much as possible, and eat plenty of whole grains and fish.

Best of luck!

Dr. Jen

Author of Fire it Up!

Announcement — 09/09/05

I just wanted to say that a few months ago I wrote about me being pregnant, well i just want to announce the birth of my daughter, Jasmine Alexandra born may 24, 2005 at 13:30 in Washington hosp ctr in dc.

I also want to ask if there is anyone dealing with husbands/boyfriends who are having problems dealing with their women working, sleeping in the firehouse or just being a working women in the firehouse period? What can I say to him? He always thinks something is going on, I love him and I would never do that, I donít even get down like that.


Help for hurricane victims — 09/09/05

I work for St. George FD in Baton Rouge and all agencies have been helping with rescue efforts. There are many people still needing to be rescued in south Louisiana that is not being broadcast on the news. If you are an IAFF member, they have organized rescue efforts, and also at the LSU Fire and Emergency Training Facility.

Ferrara Fire Apparatus is collecting items for rescue workers. FEMA is not assisting firefighters. I repeat, FEMA is not assisting firefighters. If you come down here, you need to go through IAFF or LSU. FEMA will place your recovering bodies in NOLA instead of rescuing those that still need help in other areas.

If you want to donate items, go to Ferrara's site. It lists items needed for the rescue workers, including those that come from out of state.

If you should travel down here, be advised that there is a fuel shortage, drinking water shortage (bottled), and bread will be hard to find. Bring a tent, as well as MREs (if you can find them), and be prepared to stay in harsh conditions. The soldiers coming in from Iraq said they were staying in luxury compared to down here.

Also, if you have a gun and know how to use it, I would suggest packing it with you. Have your shots up to date. Do your best to stay OUT of the water, if at all possible. If you get into the water, treat yourself as if you have been contaminated with a chemical. We are trying to keep antibacterial wipes and hand gel on all personnel.

You must be mentally prepared to come down here. This is not the time to try and prove anything to anyone. It is 9/11 tenfold. I am not writing this to scare anyone off (or offend), I just want you to all know what you would be facing.

There are many fires in the city, as many as 20 a day. Ground efforts are virtually useless and bucket drops are being made to prevent exposures.

Think about this very seriously before venturing down here. If you decide to come down, I believe I speak for our entire state.... Thank you.

You are free to email me if you decide to come down here. I can give you directions where to go and such. At this time, I am not extending my hospitality at home because I have small children who have already been affected by this tragedy, and we did not even lose our home as many of our brothers and sisters in the fire service have. I will, however, try to find accommodations at local fire stations for you. I would also like to meet any of you who do come down.

My email address is

Thank you all for your thoughts and donations during this awful time.


civil rights/ wrongfully suspended volunteer — 09/07/05

I need some information about civil rights! I am a female volunteer , was just suspended from duty for lodging a complaint against a career firefighter in same dept., what do I do now!?


Re: DHEA — 09/07/05

HI Latina,

This is what I know about DHEA: dehydro-epandro-sterone. It is produced by the adrenals (from cholesterol) and in smaller amounts in the ovaries. It is important in the manufacturing of estrogen and testosterone.

It helps maintain skin, bone, and muscle. It fights infection by building immune function and T-cells. It is used instead of hormone therapy in menapause. Women who are low in DHEA are at a higher risk for breast cancer. It is often used as an anti-aging substance and for increasing energy and libido. It lowers serum cholesterol. In men, studies show it betters heart health. However, women with a high DHEA level appear to have a higher risk of heart disease.

DHEA does have a few side effects. Most notable in my mind: if you take too much, it surpresses your body's ability to make its own. People who do have good results usually have to continue taking it for the rest of their lives for the positive effects to continue. Adult acne and excess body and facial hair are a common side effects. The dosage for men is 30 mg for men and 15 mg for women. Most doctors prescribe it along with estrogen, progesterone and testosterone.

DHEA supplements are made from wild yam sterols. Synthesized progesterone is made from these same yams. So, apparently there is something linking the 2.

I have not taken DHEA for size or strength. Nor have I taken melatonin for sleeping. Many people do both. I would be concerned, first and foremost, that upsetting the balance of hormones in the body could cause you to not make enough later.

My big concern for you would be: would you take it while you were pregnant and nursing? Those are both exhausting times, and if you have messed up the delicate balance beforehand, how will it effect you when you go off?

I have taken Creatine for a short time, and noticed a pretty good difference in strength and stamina. Research supports my finding. BUT, it may create electrolyte imbalance. Creatine draws on water from other parts of the body, and puts it in the muscle. When using, drink extra water.

Given the choice, I would pick the Creatine.

That's about all I know. I hope it helps.


DHEA supplement? — 09/06/05

Does anyone know anything about female firefighters taking DHEA supplement?

I have a hard time holding onto my muscle and I just graduated from my College firefighter 1 academy in May 05. I want to put a little more muscle on me as I struggled in the academy to keep it on me, but I want to be safe in doing it. I have been researching DHEA and my significant other who is also a firefighter has used it and gained much muscle and felt very good. I want to try it but I want to know if anyone else knows anything about it first. Since I want to have children in 4 years and I will need to get my muscle back quickly after I have them to get back into action.

What does everyone suggest, because I have tried diets high in protein lifting weights and cardio also I am a certified AFFA personal trainer.

All responses would be greatly appreciated.


RE: Stepping into an old boys club... — 09/06/05

Hi Krissy,

I am also a firefighter in Oregon, but in a much smaller department. We have 6 female firefighters here. I wish there was an easy answer for your situations and I wish that I had encouraging words for you, but I feel often as if I am in the same position you are. Generally, most of the men I work with are good guys, and treat me well around the station. Sometimes though I feel like I am not taken seriously, even though I have just as much education and experience (or more than) most of the men I work with. Sometimes, I feel like when there is a job on a fire scene that needs to get done, I am passed by for someone else, or when volunteers are needed, I am not chosen. I feel as if I am generally accepted at work, and I get along with everyone I work with. I am the only female at my station, so there are times that I feel like I donít fit in, and that people have to ďadjustĒ to my presence.

Although I donít have a solution to offer, I just wanted to let you know that I understand where you are coming from. Let me know if you hear any good advise.


RE: Breast Feeding On duty — 09/02/05

I breastfed my daughter for 7 months after my maternity leave ended. My department does not have a policy on pregnancy, let alone breastfeeding, and I was the first mother to continue breastfeeding after coming back to work. Before I came back, I informed my Commander of my intentions and he basically asked me what I needed for this to be successful. He allowed me to stay behind if my crew was dispatched to a medical. If it was anything else, I had to quit and go on the call. The biggest challenge for me was finding a private room with a door that locked!! Unfortunately I ended up in the bathroom more often than not. Some moms HAVE to pump at certain times or they get very uncomfortable. That wasn't my case though and I was able to be flexible around calls, training, inspections, etc.

I would suggest sitting down with the women on your department and asking them what would work based on your department.


RE: Turnout Gear — 09/02/05


you tell me what type of outer shell material you had and what kind of thermal barrier and moisture barrier material you had? I know there are various types and we're looking at the 2F3 for the outside shell and crosstech for the inside.

Thanks for any input!


RE: Interview — 09/01/05

First Iím surprised as many others might be here that the words making "typical female applicant mistakes" came out of the chiefís mouth.

Being able to talk to the 2 current female firefighters might give you some insight.

That being said, after being on over 175 oral boards and coaching countless candidates these are the most common answers female candidates use that can ruffle the feathers of panel members:

Anything alluding to how few female firefighters there are on the department, why they need more, you have been around the stations and know you would be a good fit. Answers that as a female candidate you are more sensitive, caring and would be an advantage on the scene of a rape victim. Although true, these examples donít always work in your favor.

Not to stereotype, but some female candidates can bring more feelings and emotions to their answers. When some candidates start talking in an oral, itís like going on a journey. There could be no final destination. Most panel members are men, arenít your girl friends and they arenít packed for the trip. Some candidates have been told to keep talking until they stop you. Please donít. Give complete but concise answers. Make your point and move on to the next question. Practice your answers in advance with a tape recorder.

I asked a candidate to tell me a little about herself during private coaching one day. I stopped her 12 minutes later somewhere in Montana. I said you have just used up 12 minutes of a 20-minute oral. What do you think we have time for now?

You can find 30 sample oral board questions here:

Captain Bob

RE: Turnout Gear — 09/01/05

We had demo'd the Securtex gear last year.... it fell apart within the year. The lining broke down and degraded, the pockets wore through quickly, and overall we were not happy with it. We ended up buying Janesvill gear far, so good.


Help for hurricane victims — 08/31/05

What can we do? I feel so helpless all the way out here. If there is a group of other firefighters that are heading back east to assist with the rescue efforts, please contact me. If not, is there anything else that we can do? It is heartbreaking to read about the losses.


Turnout Gear — 08/31/05

I'm currently serving on a committee that is trying to buy new gear before the end of the year. We are looking at three kinds - Globe, Cairns Reaxtion Gear, and Securtex. Anyone with any feedback regarding these three would be a great help. Thanks!


RE: CPAT/Women — 08/30/05


I am sorry to hear that there is not time left for your training. Women can train for this, and they can pass the CPAT. Done properly, it takes just 12 weeks if you are not totally out of shape! There is too much to tell here. My e-mail address is


Dr. Jen

RE: CPAT/Women — 08/30/05

Often, candidates don't realize that it's not just strength in the physical agility. The "nugget " is technique, momentum and grip. If you are uncertain or having problems in the physical, take advantage of any college or academy programs to learn the techniques to practice pulling hose, throwing a ladder, dragging a dummy (not you), etc.

Captain Bob

RE: Interview — 08/30/05

It's a shame the chief didn't elaborate on what constitutes "typical female applicant mistakes." Is there a way you can ask him?

Here's some stuff that I learned when I was getting ready for my interview.

They aren't allowed to ask, but might anyway, about your plans for having children. I'd avoid telling them whether or not you intend to have children, since it's none of their business.

They also aren't supposed to ask, but might anyway, what your husband/family think about you taking the job. I'd emphasize that your family and husband think it is a great opportunity for you and that the new schedule will be great for your family life.

Find a way to work in how hard you have been exercising to prepare for the job, your lifelong committment to fitness, etc. When my interviewers asked if I had any questions, I asked what kind of workout facilities and fitness training the department offers. I could actually see their eyes light up.

When they ask why you want the job, I'd avoid an answer that focuses overly on wanting to be a role model for women or "helping people." I'd focus on how much you love the physical work of firefighting, being part of a team, training and studying, etc.

I'm sure you don't need to be told this, but avoid looking or acting either "sexy" or "uptight" at the interview. They're already worried about what will happen when you get assigned to a station. Don't give them any more ideas.

Good luck, and I hope you'll let us know how it turns out.


Breast Feeding On duty — 08/30/05

I am the HR Manager for West Metro and we are looking for a policy on mother's that want to breast feed after FMLA. Do you rotate the FF to a slower house, bring them to the office etc. Please send policies if you have them. Thanks.


Katrina victims — 08/30/05

I live in rural San Diego and work for San Diego Fire-Rescue. I have room in my home and on my property for up to 50 people who need shelter for however many months it might take. Extra car, schools close by. Firefighter families need help. If you know of anyone please let me know through .


RE: Finding a job — 08/29/05


A great resource for firefighter/paramedic jobs is in the back of both Fire Engineering magazine and Firehouse magazine. JEMS magazine has some, with less of a fire service slant. There are a few departments hiring in N.H., but it's a ways away from Missouri! (Starting ff/medic salary is around $45 - 50k per year here. Though with OT you can make close to $60k). In case you are interested, Merrimack Fire Department and Derry Fire Department are the two that are going to or are hiring now. (Both are located in Southern NH, near the Massachusetts border).

I don't know how things are in the Midwest, but here in N.H., the demand for FF/Medics is very high, so they do not weigh too heavily on the FF experience. In fact, some will still hire you as a medic and cross train you. When we run the CPAT exam every year, itís always the FF/Medics that are picked up off of the list first.

Good luck!!


Subject: Finding Allies — 08/29/05

I am still trying to find people in my department that make good allies. I have tried to make friends and comrades in the other two women, however we work different shifts so it is very hard to get together.

Sometimes I feel it is just my crew, that for some reason, an unlucky one, I drew the worst women-haters on my shift. Every time I swing or do overtime at another station or another crew, they don't go out of their way to make me hate being alive, and make me hate my job. They don't say and do things that make me question my fitness for the job, or whether I am capable of doing ANY aspect of this job.

I have talked to my officers, have requested to be moved to another station and another program, and have even considered swapping shifts with another woman on the department, all to no avail.

The hardest part for me is everywhere I turn there is a brick wall, and my only choices are to quit, or promote higher up than my tormentors. I have been told I will more than likely spend my entire career at this station on this shift.

I am not eligible for promotion for another year, and honestly don't want to be a driver. I enjoy fire attack and rescue and even have found a new love for the average medical call.

I do try to focus on the good things -- the people in my personal life that are so proud of me; the fact that I realized my dream in spite of all the negative people; the people, especially the young girls, that look up to me that I can set an example for; the people I help; and here recently, I take pride in the fact that I finished our combat/consumption test with 400 psi in my 30 min. bottle after 26 minutes of work We were the longest lasting crew on the department with no one running out of air and still completing the course. Two of the guys at this station on the other crew ran out of air, in fact two of my biggest "enemies".

I can only hope that with some support I can overcome the low times and continue to do what I love.


interview — 08/29/05

I have an interview in 10 days at a fire department that currently employs two women (of 150 ff's). The chief has warned me against making "typical female applicant mistakes" in answering questions. What are those mistakes? Any advice?


RE: Finding a job — 08/29/05

I am currently applying for a job in NLR, Arkansas. The Chief is expecting to hire a lot this time around and next time around (the lists last six months.) If you are a paramedic, you have an outstanding chance from what I hear. The department is an affirmative action department, even though only two women work there now. The next testing process begins in March 06 I believe, and you do not have to live within the city to work for NLRFD.


RE: CPAT/Women — 08/29/05


You can find a detailed description of the CPAT test at

There are also some good postings on this message board regarding the CPAT. Scroll to 7/25/05, 8/2/05, and 8/26/05 for a few of them.

Best of luck!!


RE: Finding a job — 08/29/05

Fairfax Virgina is hiring right now. You can get their application online and mail it in. My roommate is in the process right now.

Good Luck!


RE:CPAT/Women — 08/29/05

Here is a great website that goes over the cpat. They also include video clips of each event.


RE: Finding a job — 08/29/05

I would suggest subscribing to and

Captain Bob

What is that? — 08/29/05

A candidate shows up at our house for a coaching session with our son Rob. Rob introduces me. He looks like he would fit the part of a firefighter, dressed in a suit, shoes shinned, and a strong firm handshake; with good eye contact. A great first impression if he had just entered an oral boardroom. Then, as he turned his head slightly, out of the corner of my eye, I see something on his neck behind his ear. I asked, ďWhat is that?Ē As he turned his head more he said, ďThatís a tattoo of a scorpion. But, I have a good story to go along with it.Ē I said, ďThere isnít a story you could tell me in an oral board, without opening a can or worms, that would convince me it was a good idea you planted a scorpion that spread out behind your ear down your neck.Ē If I saw it that soon so would a panel member.

What ever your opinion is on tattoos (there have been many a thread here), understand whoís doing the hiring. Itís not you or any one of your friends who also like tattoos, color, so called artwork or tatts.

As one officer wrote:

"Tattoos donít change people"

No but they do tell everyone who sees them something about you. And that something is nothing you can control, change or alter in most cases. Ask your self why you did or would get inked. You want to tell the world something about yourself, make a statement or be different. Yep you did. Just like the way you choose to cut your hair, the number of piercings, clothes or the people you associate with.

Then, I heard a comedian on XM Radio say about a guy with a neck tattoo, ĒOh, you forget not to do it. You were considering getting the neck tattoo but you decided it would be stupid. Then you forgot how stupid it was.Ē

Youíre auditioning to be a firefighter. You want a seamless no surprises interview. Anything about being patriotic, a lot of firefighters have tattoos (probably not before they got hired), doesnít carry any weight.

So, maybe your tattoo is not visible with a suit on. Remember there will an agility, a medical in your future where every inch of your body will be seen, a background and psych questionnaire will more than likely ask you if your have any tattoos or have you ever branded your self. This will not work in your favor.

The candidate with the scorpion tattoo said as he was leaving, I have already looked into having it removed and will go a head and do it. Cost? $2,000. Before then, he would take the suggestion of using morticianís wax to cover it up for any upcoming oral boards.

Captain Bob

Subject: Finding a job — 08/26/05

Hi, does anyone have advice on finding a job as a firefighter/ paramedic in terms of websites that are worth subscribing to or how to learn about announcements. Do any of you work for a department that is soon to be hiring and will hire a paramedic right out of school with volunteer fire experience? I live in Missouri, but am willing to relocate.

Thank you,


RE:Hanging in but ready to give up — 08/26/05

Don't give up Trish. Try to start and end every day thinking about the reasons you love the fire service and why you worked your butt off to get where you are.

Sometimes I find myself moping about negative comments or treatment particular people have given me. It's easy to dwell on those things and let them make you miserable. So then I make myself think about all the other good and decent people in my department, and how they want me to succeed. And then I think about the people I help every day, and about all the parts of my job that I love.

If there's any person or part of your job that you still love, try to focus on that. Focus on the people who are worth your thoughts, not on the jerks.

Additionally, if you have harassment or discrimination issues that aren't being handled to your satisfaction within the union or department, can you discreetly approach a city/county council person? Perhaps the mayor/manager/supervisor, or the chair of the public safety committee? If the politicians are pushing the department to diversify, they may be very unhappy to hear that one of the few women on the department wants to leave. Perhaps they can apply some pressure to improve your work environment.

Just some thoughts.

I'll be thinking about you and hoping the best for you.


RE: Discrimination — 08/26/05

Hi Lynn,

I've been on the executive board of my vol. dept. when issues of service award points and dropping people for not making quotas have been discussed. We are always careful that we treat everyone equally so we don't open ourselves to legal action.


RE: EEOC & Sexual Harassment — 08/26/05


I've been scratching my head over the case you describe. What a nightmare! I can't imagine that the wife's complaint will go anywhere. I mean, I think anyone will be able to see that we sometimes have to touch each other to do our job.

I had a wife complain to people in my vol. department that I had no business being in the department and that I was "always" down there near her husband. It comforted me to hear that when she told my friends this, they backed me up by telling her I was there not to be near her man, but because I wanted to be a firefighter. I don't think she ever got it, but it made me feel better to know my department backed me up.

I'd say your loyalty is to your female employee (who sounds like a very good one I might add) and that you should focus on making sure she feels like you all are giving her support. Might help to remind her that no matter how much she wants to beat the crap out of this woman, it would be a bad idea from a law-enforcement standpoint. Urge her to take the high road. I'm sure the poor guy whose wife must be making his home-life miserable also could use some support. I know both my departments give us confidential access to an independent "EAP" program where we can get professional counseling for any kind of problems we have. It can be work, marital, health, substance abuse problems, whatever. Maybe your guy and his wife can be steered toward some therapy. I hope you'll let us know how this issue resolves. It's one many of us have dealt with, if not on such a dramatic level. I'd love to hear how you get past the problem.


Subject: Fitness and CPAT — 08/26/05

Sorry for posting so much on this board, but I am finding it so great to have people to discuss these issues with.

I wanted to share a Web site with all the women who have been asking about fitness, the CPAT and whether they're too old or small. The site is It's run by a woman firefighter from Colorado. The articles are great, and I found the message board especially motivational. Unlike on, where you see a lot of negative replies to women's questions about fitness, the discussion on is helpful and positive. Both men and women participate on the boards, and it's great to see everyone supporting each other.


Subject: RE: Pregnancy — 08/26/05

I have been a highly welcomed member of a volunteer fire organization since 1987 and currently serve as Captain and training officer. I can honestly say I have never had to deal with the horror of the prejudices I have heard about from men. Currently we have had one female member who has been ostracized by her 4 pregnancies & 2 miscarriages. We currently do NOT have a light duty option for female firefighters who become pregnant and we (they) strongly suggest that pregnant female members take "leave" until they are able to come back at full duty. Based on my understanding of state law, a woman can ride as long as she so chooses and the department can't place the woman on leave against her will. What are your (anyone's) experiences in this area? Paid vs. volunteer? Viable options? I too may start a family in the near future and do not want to lose my state percentages and momentum as an officer b/c I was "placed on leave" for pregnancy related reasons.

Thanks for your feedback.

Capt. Renee Foster

New Jersey

Subject: RE: Subject: CPAT/Women — 08/26/05

Hi, I don't have time to really train for the CPAT. I am 50 years old and have my first interview on Wednesday the 31st. I know very little about the CPAT and no one around my area knows anything either. What am I to do? I am the only woman that made the interview. What challenges are in the tunnel and how can i best use what I have in strength to do the hammer and ceiling pull. What is the ceiling pull?

I feel like I am going in blind. I need help. I need a detailed description of the test.

Can anyone help me?

Lori in a panic.

RE:Hanging in but ready to give up — 08/25/05


I quit in May when I realized I was no longer safe at work.

There are no words for what life is like now. Please don't leave the job because of other people. Please find a way around or through the problems that are being created for you.

Please, please don't end up in the place I'm in.


Subject: Testing after pregnancy — 08/25/05

Hi all, hereís a little about me. I am recently a new mom and would like to start testing again. My son is almost 7 months and I have a degree in Fire Science, EMT, FF1 Fire Officer, and multiple other certifications. I am facing the challenge of family and friends to look into other lines of work. They all say you have a baby now how can you put your life at risk? Another challenge is getting back into shape. I have several friends in the fire service that are encouraging me to resume testing, but for the most part everyone is against it all together, or they say itís to soon.

I was wondering if any one has had similar experiences, or has any suggestions to offer.

I was also wondering if any of you have had any luck after taking the CPAT and the DRCOGG in Colorado. Thanks,


RE: Stepping into an old boys club... — 08/24/05

Hi Krissy,

Hopefully all your new coworkers need are time and opportunities to watch you prove yourself. I always tell people it's not the porn and the bad language that bothers me about the fire service; it's the people who just can't see their way to give a woman a chance.

There's only so much you can do. Sounds like you already work hard and are a pleasant coworker. My opinion is that you're not the one your boss needs to be talking to. He needs to tell his men that like it or not, you are part of their team. It's their JOB, not their option, to help you be the best you can be. It should be a matter of pride for them to help you succeed. How many jobs are there in this country where "I'm just not comfortable around that type of person" is a valid excuse for not trying????? That's just pathetic.

Like so many women here are saying, change doesn't happen unless the brass set the tone.


RE:Hanging in but ready to give up — 08/23/05


Trust me when I say you are not alone in how you feel. (Look at the many entries on this message board discussing harassment, discrimination, and hostile work environments.) Is there anyone in the department that you trust and can discuss your concerns with - even informally - without further jeopardizing your status? Have you considered taking some time off via vacation, shift trades, or leave without pay to give yourself some time and distance away from the environment without resigning completely? You may be able to file a worker's compensation claim for work related stress as well.

I don't know the specifics of your situation but I can tell you it helps me to try and separate the profession (people helping people) from the politics (which is often the exact opposite and yet widely tolerated). It is difficult when you feel like you are not welcome or part of a team, but remember the positive impact you have for the people you help on calls. They appreciate you and accept you as a fire service professional. Don't punish yourself for being female or feeling incompetent and isolated. There are two articles that you need to read. One is called "Bully for you" and the other is "Discrimination More Than a Legal Concern". They both come from the "Fire Chief" website. There is a direct link to each article on a June 6 posting on this message board entitled "Impact of harassment/discrimination". While all of this does not directly improve your work environment, it might help you understand that what you are feeling is not unusual.

As for the work environment itself, you may have legal recourse if the department is not interested or cooperative in addressing your concerns. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission website has information on what constitutes harassment / discrimination / hostile work environments, how to file a complaint, contact information, and much more. It is one option of many.

E-mail me directly at if you would like. I guarantee you that I have been where you are at emotionally. I'm sure you have worked hard to get on the fire service. Don't let others discourage you from pursuing your dreams because of their own shortsightedness.


RE: Hanging in but ready to give up — 08/23/05

Hi Trish

I got hired at age 22 in 1981 and worked in a small department before moving on to a 465 personnel department in 1986 and promoted to Captain before I retired. I think ignorance was bliss for me in the beginning and progressed to a heightened sense of awareness at the second department. The idea is to decide for yourself what you want and not let others decide for you. There are those who take great pride in trying to bring down a good person, whether male or female. I call it the crab syndrome. Picture a bunch of crabs in a bowl. As soon as one tries to climb above the others, the crabs are trying to pull them down. Same thing in the fire service...we are so close knit and those with fragile egos will try to pull others down to make themselves seem more important. There are a few men of integrity who will not play the game or be threatened by you. Try to align yourself with these individuals. Having the ability to set aside the barrage of mistreatment and see those men who can be allies will be difficult, but you can do it. Realizing that the more insecure males pick the profession as a means of an identity boost, (hero syndrome) think about how a female might threaten their sense of self worth. Not only are you doing the job that they feel only they can accomplish, but you might be doing it better.

Trish, enjoy the job with all the rewards of doing the best for God or yourself or your family. If by doing your best, you cannot be satisfied with the outcome, then decide on a career change. But don't throw in the towel, unless YOU decide to do it. I prayed constantly for support and guidance...sometimes when you feel alone, God may be the only one who can fill the hole in your soul.

Good luck and I hope all works for your best.


Subject: Stepping into an old boys club... — 08/23/05

Hello ladies,

I am a professional fire fighter in Oregon. I recently got moved to our technical rescue station, which has made me the first female in this station. My guys are great; my question to you all is how do I help them adjust to a female on the team. I seem to make them uncomfortable even though I am normally described as a fun and easy to get along with person. My officer has had many closed-door conversations with me about how everyone is trying to adjust, but they just don't quite know how to handle having a female on the team. We are a dept of 400 fire fighters, 14 women, so they have all worked with females, just not as full time members of our Tech team. My fellow female fire fighters keep telling me that it will get better, but it seems sometimes that we go 2 steps forward for every 5 backward.

Any ideas or encouraging words?


Subject: Canadian news — 08/22/05

I am shocked, disgusted and deeply disappointed at the alleged actions of British Columbia firefighters today. This morning the following story hit the papers in Vancouver and is the second publicized case of this nature in the last year. I am a paid-on-call firefighter on a different department in BC and I feel very strongly on this issue. I find it hard to believe that the firefighters conducting themselves in this manner can call themselves professionals. I can only hope that by bringing these issues into the public eye we can relay the reality and seriousness of this problem and drive home the message that this type of behavior always unacceptable.


Subject: Discrimination — 08/22/05

I have been on a volunteer department for 6 years, serving as 2nd Lieu., 1st lieu. and Lieu. The Captain I served as Lieu. Under was a very unintelligent person, and I did ALL his duties for him, because he was mentally incompetent to do any of them. I ran against him for Captain, and not only did I not get the Captain's position, they put a lesser-trained person in the Lieu. spot. I was elected to the financial secretary position (which I have held for the last 4 years). I was quite angry and have stopped going to fire calls, and other functions. In the past 5 years males have stopped showing up and have not been asked to resign positions, or sent any communications regarding their intentions toward their positions. After 4 months, I have been sent a letter requesting I appear and state my intentions toward the position of Fin. Sec. I will be losing the points for the year for the service award if I resign the position. The Male that did the same thing was given the points for his position for 4 years before any letters or demands were sent. What do I do? My husband has been a member for 16 years and has resigned due to the way they are treating me. I don't want to just resign the position.


Subject: Hi — 08/22/05

I just found this site & Iím so happy. Iíve been a firefighter for 14 years now (Iím 31!) I felt like Iíve been so alone because Iím the only female firefighter in my station. I just want to thank everyone for taking the time to reply to messages- this is a great support resource & we could all use the encouragement.

I pray for you all!


RE: newbe — 08/22/05

Hi Sarah,

Sometimes it's tough to be the only "girl" or female in the group. It can change how people act and react.

In your friend's case, it sounds like he might feel like he has to "prove" that he can do the job. It may be even more so, because he's sees you doing things right, and thinks, "Wow, she can do it, so I *have* to show that I can do it too."

Whatever it is, try not to let his insecurities, let your experience be less enjoyable. Try to stay focused on what you enjoy about what you are doing.

It's great to hear that you are starting out in the fire service so early. So many of us, didn't know or didn't have the opportunity to be a Jr. firefighter.

Good luck, be safe,


Subject: HELP ME — 08/22/05

I need to know how to become a fire cadet and I need to know where there is a class I could go to (in Ohio). I have been around fire fighting all my life and this is what I want to do with my life

please help me.

Thank you,


Subject: EEOC & Sexual Harassment — 08/22/05

I am a male requesting input from WFSI about an unusual situation.

I am involved with a volunteer fire department that uses a daytime, paid ambulance crew. Historically, at least one of the crew has been female simply due to the qualifications of the applicants. Our current female employee has sought out a tremendous amount of training, primarily on her own time, to make herself more valuable to the department. She is in her mid-30's, thought to be physically attractive, and is a single mom. She has recently been perceived as a threat to at least one of the volunteers' wives and a photograph of her touching another firefighter while backing that firefighter up on a hose line in a standard fashion was taken by one of the wives to the EEOC. She also threatened the female firefighter with her intent to have her terminated and prevented from working in the fire service in the future. The female firefighter retained legal counsel to counter the alleged defamation of character. This cease and desist letter was taken by the one volunteer's wife to the EEOC who advised the wife to sign a letter of intent to file an EEOC complaint to "protect her from the firefighter's legal harassment." We have never had an internal complaint from the female firefighter, any of the other 6 (out of 30) female members of the department, or any other individuals regarding a hostile work environment.

Is there anyone else who has experienced a similar saga and can advise?


Subject: Hanging in but ready to give up — 08/22/05

I have been reading some of the postings and realize that I am not alone (however where I am working I am). All my life I wanted to be a firefighter, and in spite of the naysayers and dominating EX-husbands, chose to go to the academy and pursue my dream.

I was hired by my department 1 month before I turned 36(the cutoff age). I have been here 18 months, and although I thoroughly love what I do, I have been struggling with the intense desire to call it quits. It has nothing to do with the calls- since that is the only time I seem to enjoy my job. It has to do with my crew and my department. I have no mentor, no guidance, and a large percentage of the department (at least I feel like it) does not want me here, nor do they want to do anything to help assimilate more women. There are three women on our department, however the other two are married to male firefighters on the department, and have gained "acceptance" by marital right. I have been seeing a therapist, asked to be moved to another station or even another shift, and here for the past couple months, thought about throwing in the towel. I am completely miserable and dread coming to work. I question my own competency for the job now and have lost my drive and passion for the job or promoting. Talking up the chain of command has done no good, and most departments have a 35 yr old age cutoff, so moving is not really and option.

I am hoping to find some support system to keep me going, because twice in the past month I have found myself outside the fire administration-building ready to turn in my gear and badge.

Any advice?


RE: not sure if I should do it... — 08/19/05


Don't let your age be a concern! If this is what you really want to do, then do it! Begin taking your classes at the academy (or if they are doing a local class), and continue to take in as many rescue calls as you can to get some exposure to not only the job, but to the people with whom you want to work. It will give them a chance to see that you are motivated and successful. This will be what gets you into that "close knit group" that you speak of. It is your attitude, motivation and integretity that will get you where you need to be!

I would love to hear from you if you have any more question! I am a full-time FF in NH and an Academy Instructor as well. Feel free to email me at

Good luck!


RE: Subject: Not sure if I should do it... — 08/18/05

You need to go for it! You don't want to regret not doing this, and you might find that this is what your real calling is.


Subject: Pregnancy — 08/16/05

To ALL the gals who have previously written about pregnancy issues! THANK YOU! I have been in the service for 13 years and am 32 y.o. My husband (also a Firefighter) and I decided to start our own family! After a year and a half of infertility, IT HAPPENED! Now I am 11 weeks along...and SCARED TO DEATH! Fist time gitters, I guess...kinda like going through ALL the fire training that you initially go through and your first structure fire call coming in! I am nervous about doing things right! I am one of 3 full-time FEMALES out of 23 full-time staff for out department. The ONLY one, right now, able to have children! I also want to make sure I pave the way, the right way, for any who may come after me! Being in my first tri-mester...and it being summer, I have REALLY felt the effects of the HEAT and nausea! With the FULL support of my OB, I have already requested to be placed in a reassigned position. Our Department doesn't have light-duty either...nor does our Police Department. They call it "reassignment". After 13 years of working shift work, I am having some difficulty with the 8-5 schedule change...but that may have something to do with the fact that the City is messing with my hours as well.

To make a LONG story short, THANK YOU for your postings and for some of the guidance you gals have given me with your thoughts! Not only am I going through the whole self doubt thing right now (will I be a good Mom, etc.) but the anxiety of being separated from my crew takes a bit of a toll as well. I am also a shift supervisor on my department and the fear of the crew 'going awry' while I am off shift is somewhat bothersome. I am NOT saying that they can't function without me! I have a partner who is also a shift supervisor, but we balance each other. Meaning that when he is on the down side of things, I am on the up and TOGETHER we make our crew be the best we know it can be! Lots of worries!

Thanks again and I hope you all continue to keep the lines of communication open! I may recommend to my Chief about continuing on 24/48s and doing the 12 hours admin and 12 hours with our Battalion Chief! What a GREAT idea! Not only am I getting the projects done on the admin side that I need to get done, but I am also keeping up with gaining MORE command experience! Thanks for that idea!

One last comment. This about when the right time is to tell your crew about your little ball of fire you have growing! I told my crew when I was 5 weeks. Here is my reasoning. While I have already established my role with my crew and my position with the department, I felt that I owed them the respect of letting them know. I based this on an experience I had with a female Liet. that I had the privilege of working under a few years ago. We were at an awesome training burn in a huge OLD farm house.... and I ended up pulling HER out (she was the torch/instructor) when she collapsed with heat exhaustion., borderline heat stroke! She was a mess!!!! She was talking out of her mind and very combative! A few days later, I found out that she was 10 weeks or so pregnant! I could have JUST KILLED HER! Not because she was on the inside...but because I felt that I would have hounded her MORE to get out get get hydrated.... even if it meant picking her up and carrying her out (she was only 100lbs soaking wet with gear on!) We, as firefighters, male or female ALWAYS have each others backs! this circumstance, now my circumstance, the guys are more protective, and understanding of why I won't roll around on the ground with a combative patient or be my usual go get 'em self right now!

Sorry to carry on for my first message. Thanks for having this site!!!

Karen, Ohio

Subject: workout during fire academy — 08/15/05


First: Yeah! Starting your academy... you must be very excited!

These academies are very physical. Overuse syndromes and injuries happen most often when we are tired. Our bodies need it. Period.

I would bet you that your schedule in the academy will be tough enough without adding more exercise. Plus you'll need to study, right?

I would recommend that you do (did... oh well) the training in the 12 weeks preceding the academy OR afterwards to keep you fit and injury free on the job. You'll have more energy then, you could learn a lot, and maximize your time during your workouts.

Eat well, and sleep a lot! Stay tough!

Dr. Jen

Subject: Will I ever be the same? — 08/15/05


I take it you have sought the help of a psychologist and probably even a psychiatrist? I know this sounds really weird, but:

I had a bad memory I needed to "erase". (As a teenager I came up on several friends right after they hit a tree doing 70). I saw a hypnotist... several times: I think 5. It was long ago, and I would have no way to find her again. But, it worked for me. I have not forgotten the incident, it's just smaller in my mind, and does not bother me so much.

Feel better.

Dr. Jen

Subject: not sure if I should do it... — 08/15/05

Hi, I am an EMT-I in NH and recently moved to a small town. I am allowed to do rescue calls but was told that I am not part of the fire Dept. So now I have decided to take Fire one. I will be paid more. I'll get into awesome shape and Iím very exited about it. The men at the FD always treat me nice but it's a close-knit group. I am worried that number one if I succeed at making it through they will treat me different.

I am also 43 years old and wondering what you girls think about my starting fire fighting.


Subject: Need Advice — 08/15/05

I have been looking for a board like this. I need some advice from other women in this area of work. I belong to a vol. department in a small town. We are all 24-7 on call. I have a chief and dep.chief that push me to take courses to better my education. I have been doing this for 5 years now, and yet I still have to fight to get any where with in my limits. I work hard and have the same capabilities as the guys do, and yet I am still being treated like I have no idea (or as a fellow fire fighter say's "just a female") what do I do. I keep asking for extra work or training and I get ignored. Where do I go now?


Subject: EO and Harassment — 08/15/05

Ladies, guess what: The EEOC has jurisdiction over paid, combination and volunteer departments with certain qualifications. If your volunteer/combo department receives federal financial assistance (grants, etc) they probably are required to follow the Civil Rights Act, ADA and FLSA, as well as some others. There are also stipulations that qualify many volunteers as employees. Google "Haavistola" and "Pietras" to find more details. Both of their departments are listed with the IRS as tax exempt, so that excuse is shot out of the water, too. has some interesting facts, and makes several points you may want to look into. The Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title VII, lists what is considered discrimination and the protected classes. Both documents are good guides for managers and fed-up employees.

Let me tell you, Eva, your boss is encouraging a hostile atmosphere and discrimination, and is as much at fault for the attitudes of the idiots you work with as the idiots themselves. I have the same problem here, but the boss is the guy that sets the tone for discrimination and hostility; it wasn't a problem before he got here. Of course, we used to have a female chief, too, so that could have curbed the baser instincts. I have incredibly thick skin, but it has gotten so out of control that he is compromising our mission by hiring minimally qualified males in place of more qualified female counterparts. I know that filing a formal EEOC complaint will probably end my fire service career, but it's time to put up or shut up, and I cannot let these cretins continue to defame such a noble service.

Marley, you have the right of it, I am proud of the fire service, and my pride in each and every one of you glows, but my department (and a few others) is screwed up and needs a kick in the good ole boys' tender spot. Look out, boys, my size seven Ranger Firewalkers are comin' your way!!


Subject: workout during fire academy — 08/12/05

I'm starting fire academy on Monday, and I'm wondering if I should still go the gym and workout after academy? Our academy is six weeks long, Monday thru Saturday 8:30-5:30... Dr Jen, could someone start your "Fire It Up" fitness program while in Fire Academy also?? Thanks...


Re: Harassment — 08/11/05

Nat - I think setting a woman-friendly tone and successfully handling harassment and has to come from the top down. Having a thick skin, working your hardest and building a network of allies who will stick up for you helps. But the department top brass and officers have to make it clear that they consider women valuable to the department and will not look kindly on harassment.

I haven't had to take any complaints up the chain of command (knock on wood), but there is a recent case that impressed me in the way it was handled. A year or two ago, a FDNY ff named Adrienne Walsh earned a spot on Rescue 4 only to be completely ostracized by her coworkers from day 1. As in, they wouldn't even acknowledge her presence in the building. I only know what I read in the media, but from that vantage point, it appeared that the whole incident was handled with class by her and her bosses. She tried to get along, but when that didn't work, she mentioned it to some coworkers. When they told a chief, he took it upon himself to take the matter up the chain of command. The brass responded dramatically. The problem children at Rescue 4 got punished and Walsh is apparently now at Rescue 2. If news articles I read are accurate, getting a fair shot. I recommend googling her name if you want to read more about that case.

Of course, this model of top-down conflict resolution doesn't help someone like Eva (see her message below) whose boss, instead of setting the tone, had the actual nerve to tell her that she wasn't getting a promotion because the guys wouldn't like taking orders from a woman. That frosts my cookies just hearing about it. Here's a guy who should be putting boot to a$$ and telling his department that she earned the spot and they better darn well listen to her or face his wrath. Instead, he's so WEAK!


RE: Harassment — 08/10/05

Frequently messages are posted by people who have suffered and are still suffering harassment, discrimination, and hostile work environments as a member of the fire service. There is increasing media coverage of lawsuits / legal actions filed against fire departments because of these conditions. What I don't see are postings reflecting any successful and reasonable solutions to these problems by anyone who has experienced them. Does anyone have a positive outcome that they would be willing to share? (I don't consider having "thick skin" and being able or expected to endure abuse a reasonable or successful solution.) My own experiences over the years have included various degrees of physical intimidation / domination, psychological abuse, social ostracism and isolationism, denial of training opportunities for skill development or promotional preparation, differing standards, and lack of acceptance based on gender alone. Recently, I have begun to come forward a little and tried to explain and relate some of these issues to management in an effort to address and improve them from within the organization. Anyone who has ever suffered retaliation knows that this is not an easy thing to do.

I am looking for feedback from people who have had success in dealing with these issues on a department level. What made it successful? Management intervention, union representation, strong leadership at the company level, a strong commitment to teamwork and quality of service, etc.? Was there any kind of committee or reporting option where a "formal complaint" resulting in disciplinary action did not have to be filed? Could a concern be filed with anonymity? What level of involvement did it seem to take to improve the work environment? Was it the Fire Chief level? Executive Management? Human Resources / Personnel department? Middle management? Intervention by other shifts or crewmembers at the company level? Was the resolution formal or informal?

What kind of actions were taken that improved the work environment? Was it a temporary fix? Would you have faith in your department's system for dealing with hostile work environments if you had to utilize it again? What gave you the courage / confidence to report a concern about your work environment?

not some idealistic rookie. I have close to fifteen years of service but I would like to see improvement in this area. It is a complex and multi-faceted issue and obviously it has a significant impact on many. Any feedback would be welcome. If you don't want to post it to this site, you can e-mail me directly at



RE: scoliosis — 08/10/05


It just dawned on me as I answered someone else's question, that this might help you. They were asking about preventing back injuries. I thought of you... and that if there was any chance you could do this job, this kind of stabilization would be a good place to start...

...Regarding back injuries: There is no time like the present to start preventing back injuries! They are among the most common debilitating work related injuries around. It is very hard to treat, and much easier to prevent! The problem is not just forward flexion, but coupling that with over-twisting and lifting at the same time! Training the trunk muscles to recognize its limits in terms of range of motion is paramount!

Yes, everyone knows how to do abs. But: do you know how to safely work the lateral flexors of your spine? How about the extensors (erector spinae)?

Here: Do your ab workout as usual. Then ad this: Lay on your side... perfectly on your side. Put your down side arm under your head and support your neck so it's straight. Place the top hand on the floor in front of you so your elbow points toward the ceiling. Lift both legs, in unison, 8" off the floor without rolling forward or back. Lift slowly, and hold, Lower. Do not jerk. Repeat 20 times and roll over and do the other side. Then do extensions on the hyper- extension bench at the gym. (Make sure it's the horizontal one, not the angled one- it's useless) Start with 20 reps, holding at the top. Make sure you don't hyper-extend. If your gym doesn't have a back extension bench, do them on an exercise ball. Do this every other day when you do your abs.

Increase your reps by 5 each workout.

Work both of these up to 100 reps in each direction: right side up, left side up, back up on the extension bench.

When you've done that, start using the back extension bench for your lateral flexion exercises. Start with 3 sets of 8. Work up to 4 sets of 15... be careful, it's hard- especially if you carry quite a bit of upper body muscle. Don't jerk. Make your range of motion bigger each time. Don't add weight to the lateral flexions... you don't need it. Start adding weight (plates) for your extensions. 25 lbs. is a good place to start... and back it off to 3 sets of 10 to start with... work it up to 4 sets of 15.

Keep in mind that a lot of your work will be sustained contraction. Hold at the top for a few seconds on every rep. It'll help on the job.

This will train your lateral flexors and your extensor muscles not to move past a safe range of motion... saving you from sprains and strains. This will prevent the hyper mobility that eventually chews up your disk!

Any question? Let me know!

Dr. Jen Milus
Subject: newbe — 08/10/05

Hi my name is Sarah. Iím a Jr. firefighter and there is this other Jr. in my dept. This a guy and he tries to act like a big shot. I mean Iím friends with him but when Iím around he tries to show off. We have taken the same class together but he still tries to show me up. I don't want to be mean but its really making me mad I just want him to act the way he did be for I joined and when I first joined, now he just acts like a jerk. What should I do (Iím the only Jr. in my dept. thatís a girl.) just him and me at our firehouse.


RE: Scoliosis — 08/08/05


I am so sorry to hear about your history. What a shame. It's done now, and I applaud you the courage to move on and try to take something like this on. I have not examined you, so I would be remiss in rendering an opinion as to your ability to safely and effectively perform the duties necessary. Just a simple scoliosis would be one thing, but a fusion at multiple levels is entirely different. I would suggest you contact that second surgeon and have him take a look at you. See what he thinks. If you cannot get to him, and you live in the San Francisco bay area, I have a favorite spine specialist I refer to in cases like yours.

Let me know.

Dr.Jen Milus

RE:Harassment — 08/08/05

I have been in the fire service for 10 years. The first thing you need is a thick skin. Since I have been upgraded to Captain their are individuals that I have gotten along with that have a big problem with me being their Captain. It is totally their problem that I have to live with. There is not much the department can do without proof, as you know. Make sure your department has a sexual harassment policy for their protection as well as yours.


Subject: promotions — 08/08/05

Congratulations to Janet and all the women out there who have been promoted. I noticed one of the posts wondering if men would be willing to take orders from a woman. Well, I was just up for a captain's position twice, and a male with the exact same experience level as I have was promoted. Nearly all of the firefighters had come up to me at one point in the process and told me they hoped I would be promoted, because the new captain's personality and ability to manage people is lacking. The first time I was turned down the Chief told me that male firefighters would have a problem taking orders from a woman. The second time I was not aggressive enough. (read that manly enough)

I think the issue here is that the Chief would have problems taking orders from a woman, no one else on the department seems to have a problem listening to me. I have been in command of fires and the fire was extinguished and no one threw their helmets down on the ground in disgust because I was there. I am the first woman on the department and the first up for promotion. Before this episode I would have told everyone that there wasn't any bias on the department. I feel that my success in fitting into the department was due to me biting my tongue a lot, working twice as hard as the guys and not making any waves. Now instead enjoying the job I love, I feel like a token female and total idiot for even trying for the promotion.

Thanks for reading this, I'll probably get over being depressed about this in a few months. There is no one to vent to in this fortress of testosterone.


RE: This is what I want to be — 08/05/05


I know this message is a few weeks old, but I am going to answer it anyway, knowing that you have quite a bit of time to get yourself ready for your future in the fire service. In high school, they should offer an anatomy class. Take it. Don't just learn it: be it, internalize the information. Take biology and chemistry: same thing. Take notes every day in class, and memorize the notes and everything you learn every day in class THAT NIGHT. Then memorize the whole week's worth of info again on Sunday morning. Then study it the night before the test. Memorize it then too. The third time's a charm! This will put the information in your long-term memory bank. You brain will never forget it! It would be almost impossible. Knowledge is built on knowledge. You'll need the basic sciences when you go to paramedic school. The more you know about these subjects, the more things you have to hang new information on when you receive it in your fire science classes and Medic school. Take math: in algebra and geometry, focus extra on word problems. You'll see why when you get to figure out the volume of water that moves through a hose of a given diameter.

High schools often also have weight training classes. I started lifting weights when I was 12. (That is too young... your age is perfect). Now, while you are still growing, your body is still releasing growth hormone. Now is the time to build muscle mass and strength for a lifetime of use. Learn to lift weights properly. Focus on exercises that move multiple joints. Use free weights. These are examples: straight bar squats, clean and jerk, leg press, leg curl, weighted walking lunges, dumbbell chest presses, upright rows, pull-ups, push-ups, bent-over rows. Do tons of abs. Do core conditioning: you need to protect your back for the future. If you don't know how to do core work, maybe your gym has some classes! Also, always do as many (if not a few more) sets of pulling work as you do pushing. Work the back of your body as much if not more than the front.

There are a few exercises you should never do, as they often cause microtrauma, and lead to injury later. These are: straight bar bench press, behind the neck lat pull-downs, and behind the neck military press.

Finally, don't ever forget that you can do anything you set your mind to. Is that too much info?

You can Email me at:

Dr. Jen

Subject: Scoliosis — 08/05/05

Hello, My name is Whitney, I am 17, a fire explorer, and want to a firefighter.

A few years ago I had an unnecessary back surgery for scoliosis (that was later corrected by a more qualified surgeon), the surgery was a 5 level spinal fusion (T11-L2). I haven't lost very much mobility from this and have been told by my doctor that I can do anything so long as it doesn't hurt.

I have participated in many fire related activities, and NONE of it causes me pain, it only encourages me to want to try harder in making this dream a reality. My question is, is this a foolish dream? Would somebody look once at my back and laugh? I know how important the health of a back is in every function of firefighting and I understand that it would take A LOT of hard work to become a firefighter. Is it possible? Would any fire department ever hire me because of it?

Any thoughts are appreciated!



RE: Women posting to this board — 08/04/05


I had not heard about adverse actions regarding purchasing clothing outside GSA. There shouldn't be a problem with the clothing itself as long as the nomex fiber content meets the standard. The only problem I could see is if they were purchased with Government money. The Fed. Gov. is very picky about how its money is spent and to whom it goes. For instance, maybe you are buying the clothing from a friend or family member with Government funds, which could cause legal problems for you and for said friend or family. Also, GSA works with companies that utilize workers who are physically/mentally handicapped in order to help promote such programs in other companies, etc...

If you purchase the clothing personally, it can be expensive, but until fire warehouses start stocking women's sizes (try...never!), our options with Gov. funds are probably limited to the "unisex" clothing, which I definitely agree DOES NOT fit women well at all!

The best advice I could give is to submit a request to your local warehouse with sources for where the clothing can be purchased. And, perhaps a request to GSA to add women's nomex to the catalog. With the growing numbers of women in wildland fire, I think it is time for a change! Pun intended!


Subject: CPAT/Women — 08/02/05

Dear Marley,

For older women who face the CPAT: I would start training months in advance.

In addition: I am assuming the 30 pound belt just goes around your waist, right? That can be easier on your spine anyway.

If you don't have a stair climber, use a regular step, and step up and back down (don't go over and off the front side: it's hard on your knees).

In addition to the weight belt, though, you'll need to add weight! You could carry dumbells in your hands. Start with 5-pounders. The test has you on that step mill for 3 minutes. I would start with that, with the belt you have. Do that 3 times a week. The next week, use 10-pounders. The next 15. The next 20. That's 70 right there! Don't ever forget to do a warm-up first, and stretch afterwards! Maintain that 3 minutes step training while you do the other training.

Then there's the rest of it. The last 2 events...Let's see: the dummy drag: are you doing leg press and weighted walking lunges? You really need to have leg strength and low back strength for that.

The ceiling breach and pull: I would suggest one-armed lat pulls with a rope handle. Alternate hands: right-left, right-left. Start with 40-pound and slowly progress up to 80+ (at least). Up to 20 reps! Then I would do a bicep upper-cut: limited range of motion.I would start with a 10-pound dumbell, and work up to 25. These are not all traditional exercises, so if you don't know them, you are not alone. Let me know.

You'll also need a good trunk stabilization program.

Final little hint: schedule your test so that it does not take place the week before or the week of menstruation. That makes you weaker.

I know you can do this. Let me know if you need more help!!!

Dr. Jen Milus

Subject: CPAT/Women — 08/02/05


I forgot an important thing: when you are doing that step-up work, make sure you do half the step ups right leg first, and half left leg first. Otherwise you'll end up with one calf sore, and the other buttock and hamstring sore.

Best wishes!

Subject: RE: Subject: volunteer firefighting — 08/02/05


It really depends on what you are doing at your drill, but I would suggest that you start with comfortable jeans, a t-shirt and athletic shoes. If it is really hot, I wear shorts. I know this is going to sound sexist and conservative--I can't believe I'm putting it in print-- but don't dress "cutesie". I avoid low cut shirts or anything that makes me stand out--like pink or skintight pants. Volunteer departments tend to be much more casual and less militaristic, so you probably will not have to wear assigned work uniforms. Good luck!


Subject: RE: Subject: Help getting on with San Francisco Fire Department — 08/02/05

San Francisco Fire Testing

The existing list was supposed to expire last year. Since then it has been extended 3?? times. There are around 200+ left on the list. The next test is now expected to be late 2005 or early 2006.

Q. What is the best book to study for their particular exam?

CB: The last SFFD written test was made up of about 60% psych questions. This threw many candidates off. Forty-two hundred took the last written. Seventeen hundred passed. One of the best books out there for this type of test is from Don McNea Fire School. You can take their sample test with answers here:

Q Also I know that you now have to pass the CPAT to get in.

CB Yep. You not only have to pass the CPAT, but you have to also get through the academy. SFFD uses wood ladders. This is where the wheels can start coming off your wagon. The CPAT is something you can prepare for!

One unique feature of the CPAT is once you pass a certified program the certification is good for one year to qualify you for any department that requires a CPAT agility test.

Q Anyone may also kindly give me advice on how to pass the oral interview (if I make it that far).

CB The last SFFD was the first time they gave an entry-level oral board. The interviews were short. The average time was 12-15 minutes.

Like most entry level tests the written and CPAT are pass-fail. The oral board is usually 100% score to get hired. The secret for the oral board is learning how to take a firefighter interview (no this is not a corporate interview!), to develop a seamless, no surprises presentation that will stun the oral board into giving you the badge over the other candidates.

One of the best tools to practice your answers is using a tape recorder to hear what the panel is going to hear out of your mouth. Using a tape recorder enables you to get your timing, inflection, volume, where to cut out material, get rid of the uhís and other pause fillers, or to find out if you really sound like Donald Duck. You need to get married to your hand-held tape recorder.

Try this. Take 3X5 cards and write down your oral board questions. Practice your answers with the tape recorder. If you hear something you do not like when you play it back, turn over the 3X5 card and write it down. The next time you go after that question, turn over the card first and see what you donít want to say.

Fire Captain Bob

Subject: Firefighting in Iraq? — 08/01/05

Hi all,

Wackenhut is trolling for firefighters to work in Iraq. I've got some questions, please:

1) Has anyone had any dealings with Wackenhut? Are they a good employer?

2) Has anyone had one of these contracts, or do you know someone who has? Comments or advice would be welcome.

3) For obvious reasons, I'd rather not end up in Iraq. They occasionally advertise for other countries in the same area. Can anyone comment on other countries that might be preferable?

I'd have to go for my hazmat tech certification. I don't want to spring for the training (or go through more hazmat--yuck!) if this contract is not a good idea.

Comments, anyone?


Subject: RE: Subject: CPAT/Women — 08/01/05

Dr. Jen,

What advice do you have for an older woman who might have to face the CPAT again?

I train regularly with a 30-pound belt, but I don't have access to either a 70-pound vest or a Stairmaster. Also, some time ago, I traded my bunker gear and SCBA for wildland gear, so I'm just not used to all that weight on my shoulders.

I'm concerned that if the stair climb doesn't get me, the last two events will. But I'm old enough now that some departments won't even accept my application--how can I train without injuring myself?


Subject: fire lieutenants exam and answers — 08/01/05

Does anyone have the civil service fire lieutenants test and answers?


Subject: Greetings From Iraq — 07/29/05

My name is Mike and I am from NY. I am presently serving in Iraq, Camp Liberty, to be exact. I would like to hear from the visitors of this wonderful site. You all have my deepest respect in what you do.

You can

I look forward to hearing from you all


Subject: volunteer firefighting — 07/29/05

I am going to start going to my volunteer firefighting training meetings but I donít have a work uniform. How should I dress?


RE: Any aid information? — 07/28/05

Many institutions donít list or qualify as eligible education institutions when it comes to federal financial aid or financially eligible/accredited programs or vocational schools (let them tell you no before making assumptions).

Most private institutions do have a particular bank that is utilized by their students; you may want to get in contact with them. Although student loans though banks can be at a higher interest rate, theyíre still at a lower rate than credit cards.

One candidate wrote: I went through Wells Fargo PLATO loans. I got a great rate and it was very east and quick to get the money. Of course, it all depends on your credit history. Itís also good to have your credit cards just in case since there are so many things you get nickel and dimed by in school.

Another candidate wrote: I highly recommend trying FAFSA first itís the cheapest route. By utilizing FAFSA I was able to get Pell grants, the BOG (waives tuition) and still use my GI Bill.

Still more: If I had attended an eligible program, and received the appropriate 1098-T form at year's end, I could have deducted up to $4000 off of my 2005 Adjusted Gross Income tax filing.

Another way to get in an academy is through this is a home study program that you can complete on line at your time schedule and then go to Texas for the hands on 2-3 week completion to obtain your certificate. Cost? About $2,800.

Fire captain Bob

Subject: Any aid information? — 07/27/05

My name is Shannon Schemkes, and I have always been passionate about becoming a firefighter paramedic. Growing up everyone told me it would never happen, I was a girl and females weren't supposed to be firefighters.

Well, I made a promise to myself that I would prove them all wrong and make my dream come true. I started volunteering with a local private ambulance company about two years ago, only to become more passionate about wanting to help save lives and protect the community. I graduated from high school in May of 2004 with a 3.2 GPA, and have been able to take some classes toward my degree at a local community college thanks to financial aid. I recently discovered that financial aid would not cover my fees for EMT courses, or fire academy. Upon learning that I found out exactly what the cost was to attend Fire Academy, way more than I can afford. I have searched for any sort of aid or scholarships that will ensure my dream comes true, but to no avail.

I am writing this email in hopes that someone may be able to point me in the right direction as to where I may be able to find funds to help me get to where I want to be in life. I would greatly appreciate any response, and I thank you in advance for any help that may be given.

Thank you

Subject: Harassment — 07/27/05

To anyone with some advice as far as harassment goes in the fire dept....I'm in a volunteer fire dept for about five years. My rank right now is 1st Lt and I'm looking to advance.

Just recently I was "acting assistant chief" along with two other guys while the Chief and his Assistants were away. We list on the message boards at both our halls who will be "acting" and for how long. Well, someone highlighted my name and wrote, "dyke" under it. So, everyone answering calls could see it. I have a pretty good idea who did this, but I'm working on the proof. Right now the dept won't do anything because we can't prove who it was right now. When I find out who it was, I want to press charges against them.

I've found out many others have talked about me in this way, but never to me or wrote it like this person did. Not sure what to do in this Any advice would be much appreciated.


RE: Advice — 07/27/05


I don't think any of us mean to be discouraging about choosing firefighting as a career. It's a great job -- the best in the world, as far as I'm concerned. I get up every morning grateful to go to work and looking forward to being with my crew. I never felt like that about any job I had before.

Nonetheless, I think women considering this career need to be aware of gender issues they might face, so they can make an informed decision. Physically and emotionally, the job isn't for everyone.

In addition to the advice that's been given, I'd urge young women considering this career to learn a second language, especially Spanish or an Asian language. There is a dire need for bilingual firefighters, and this will make you stand out as an applicant.

Best of luck to Rachel, Brittany and all the young women thinking about this career.


RE:Passed the CPAT! — 07/26/05

I am happy to see so many women in the fire service and striving to get there. Captain Bob is right: there is a way to get there, and injury prevention through proper training is the way. I hope I can help...

Dr. Jen

RE: Being short and throwing a ladder — 07/26/05

Check in with your local area department and arrange to go by for a little coaching. What firefighter wouldnít want to puff out their chest showing his or her special techniques that got them their job or help on the fire ground. One of our candidates was losing sleep over the uncertainty of not being able to throw a ladder. These fears were put to rest after visiting a local fire department that showed the needed technique.

With ladder throws, itís gaining momentum and a continuous movement from beginning to end of the throw, using a pivot point and the weight of the ladder to your advantage. Dragging hose or a dummy is starting with a thrust to start up the momentum, taking shorter steps, keeping a low forward center of gravity, using your own weight to keep up the momentum during the pull.

Walking a ladder is using a pivot point and the weight of the ladder to your advantage. When raising the fly, pull the rope in short hand over hand movements in front of your face not much higher than your head. On each grip of the rope, turn your fist palm down to improve your grip. Keep one foot planted at the spur (bottom one side or the other) keep the other foot back for balance. Slightly tilt the ladder towards the wall for balance as you raise it.

Captain Bob
Subject: CPAT/Women — 07/26/05

I have been training/working with women training for the Cpat, and would like to offer any information I can... answer questions!

Dr. Jen

RE: Passed the CPAT! — 07/25/05

Often, candidates donít realize that itís not just strength in the physical agility. The ďNuggetĒ is technique, momentum and grip. If you are uncertain or having problems in the physical, take advantage of any college or academy programs to learn the techniques to practice pulling hose, throwing a ladder, dragging a dummy (not you), etc. Many departments offer practice run-through sessions for their physical test prior to the actual date of testing. Donít pass up this opportunity.

You donít want any surprises during the physical agility. You need to have practiced hands on with every segment of the agility. Too many candidates think they are in great shape. One who did not take advantage of the practice session told me, ďHey, that 75 pound pack was heavyĒ.

Here are some valuable tips for CPAT from Tom Dominguez and Reed Norwood:

The secret to passing the CPAT is to be in shape with a high cardiovascular fitness level and to know the techniques as Captain Bob has mentioned. The average time is between nine minutes and ten minutes, twenty seconds. Try to think of the CPAT (or any agility) as a marathon where you are trying to complete the event instead of going for the record time. You can burn out if you are going for time no matter how well in shape you are. One of the best programs Iíve seen first hand to get ready for the CPAT is by Dr. Jen Milus at her website

Most people who fail the CPAT fail the first event (Stair Climb/Stair Stepper), or run out of time during the last event (Ceiling Breach). People who run out of time at the breach and pull lost a few seconds at all the prior event stations because they PAUSED to THINK of how to do the event or PAUSED or SLOWED down to catch their breath.

#1 Stair Climb: No matter how hard you train for the stair stepper, your legs are going to be like rubber after you get off the machine and start pulling hose. The recovery time for rubber legs depends on your fitness. Even still, rubber legs or not, you have to get moving and keep moving, and stay moving! If you stop at anytime during the events, the clock is ticking and you are losing time.

The tendency is that as you start wearing down on the stair stepper machine, your pace and stride will change and that will affect your balance. As you lose your balance, you start to wobble and the momentum of the weight on your body increases the swaying. As the distance of the sway increases, you will make a natural grab for the handrails. Grab the rail (more than twice?) to many times and you are disqualified. Instead of grabbing the rail, use the back of your hand and push your self back. Adjusting your stance and concentrating will help you avoid the wobble. Just like wearing a SCBA, you also have to concentrate on your breathing.

#2 Hose Drag: As soon as you step off the stair machine, turn and face the line that takes you to the hose pull. As soon as the proctor takes the two sandbags off your shoulders, get moving! Pick up the nozzle and shoulder the hose and GO! This is not the time to worry about those rubber legs or try to catch your breath. MOVE! Go as fast as you can. Step into the box, turn around, get down on one knee (being careful not to come down too hard and injuring your knee) and PULL the hose, hand-over-hand as fast as you can. That drum will give you some resistance when you turn the corner but if youíre going at a good clip it wonít be too difficult. You can breathe while hand pulling the hose.

#3 Equipment Carry: When you get to the saw carry, just do it! Face the cabinet and remove each saw one at a time. Now, turn around and pick up both saws. This will ensure that you have both saws touching the ground before you begin moving down the line.

#4 Ladder Raise and Extension: When you arrive at the ladder raise, get down, grab the rung and raise the ladder. You have to push the ladder up, rung-by-rung as fast as you can. Move over to the fly extension and just do it.

#5 Forcible Entry: Breathe, as you follow the line and pick up the sledgehammer. Start swinging as soon as you can in short choppy strokes. Departments may set the forced entry device at a level that fits their needs. When the alarm sounds, let go of the sledgehammer and move to the tunnel crawl.

#6 Search: Get in and get out! You may not move like a greased pig at the fair but you do need to move. One candidate wrote: Here is where I lost about 15-20 seconds. The event itself is pretty fun if you are not claustrophobic. Be aware of the obstacles inside. I could not figure one out, and I got disoriented and lost precious time figuring it out. Crawl fast as there are no abrupt edges that you will run into. All the walls are tapered so as long as you keep your head down you can fly through. Doing the practice run-throughs will take away all doubt of what and where the obstructions are in tunnel crawl.

Always remember to stay right, and come back to your right after an obstacle. The event is shaped in a horseshoe, so there are two right turns. This can be a good time to catch your breath as well in preparation for the dummy drag.

#7 Rescue: At the dummy pull, size up where the handles are before you get there. Grab them and get going. You may feel the burn in your legs but donít stop. It saps your strength to have to get the dummy moving again each time you stop. When you reach the barrel, do not make the turn until the dummyís knees are even with farthest side of the barrel. If you try to pull the dummy around the barrel any sooner, it takes more energy and it will take more time. Get over the line and let go of the dummy and get to the ceiling Breach and Pull.

#8 Ceiling Breach and Pull: This is the event where folks run out of time and fail the CPAT. Grab the pike pole and step in. Start pushing and pulling with all you got! If thereís a D-handle on the pike pole put a hand under it for increased leverage. Get a rhythm/fast pace going. An object at rest requires energy to get it moving. An object that is moving requires less energy to keep it moving. If those ceiling hatches are not making lots of loud noise, you are not working very hard.

You can buy yourself some time here that you may need to finish the CPAT in time.

Follow the instructions of the proctor! The proctor will either tell you where the line is or point to the line you are to follow. People have been failed for not following the right line to the next event.

If you were to pause five seconds at the start and stop of every event, or to stop and breathe or think about each event, you can loose about a minute and a half of precious time. Once this time is gone, you cannot get it back. This goes back to what Captain Bob was writing about when it comes to the manipulation and techniques of each event.

You can over train by carrying extra weight in your backpack while you train for the stair stepper. Seventy-five pounds on your back places a tremendous amount of stress on your ankles, knees, hips and back. Practice the event as you are actually going to do it. Work out at the same pace and distance as the actual stair event. The stair stepper event (as are most of the CPAT events) is based on cardiovascular fitness and endurance. It is expected that you will be anaerobic and that is what the CPAT is attempting to do. While strength is required, you donít need to be an Olympic weight lifter.

From the book Becoming a firefighter

Fire Captain Bob

RE: Female firefighter about to deliver — 07/24/05

Schedule your appointments for your days off.


RE: Pregnancy — 07/24/05

Hi Robin, mom-to-be! Congratulations! I wish I knew about this message board when I was pregnant and loaded with questions. I am a proud mother of two and a full-time firefighter on an engine company. Life is great now but going thru those maternity years was exhausting. I have a lot of advice I could offer from my own experiences but I believe it is different for every female. There are many different factors to consider, such as: your engine company's workload, your personal duties (fighting fire vs. driving/pumping), your pre-pregnancy fitness level, your current pregnancy fitness level and much more...

Personally, my OB doctor could not fathom what my career consisted of and the physical demands that we put our bodies through to be able to 'get the job done'. (And I do not blame her. Think about it, do most women bench press their body weight and carry bodies that weigh more than them?) My doc insisted I could do everything I did prior to the pregnancy while I was pregnant. I can attest from personal experience this could potentially harm the fetus. It ultimately boils down to this. What is most important to you? Is your job worth risking your unborn child? Or is your unborn child worth risking your job? These are very sensitive questions but they need to be asked if you want children while in this profession.

I wish you many blessings for a healthy pregnancy and a healthy child!


Maternity Leave — 07/24/05

I am a career firefighter in Wisconsin with a 3-year-old that I had while still volunteering. Now that I would like to have another child, I would like to know how other career firefighters handled their maternity leave and how long they remained on active duty. I had an uncomplicated first pregnancy and am in very good health. I will also be transferring to the med unit soon so the chance of fire suppression activities would be low. Thank you for your responses.

Fighting Mommy

RE: Couple both firefighters want family — 07/24/05

I, too have a similar issue, except my husband is not a firefighter. We work two hours from each other and we have to meet in the middle to make sure one of us is there for our son. He leaves for work before I get home and I have to leave before he does. You have the advantage of having a spouse that understands your schedule. The way it works for us is through a lot of planning and help from our family. Our son does not have to go to daycare too often, because our family helps us out. I would suggest that you find a daycare that can be accommodating for short-notice drop-offs, because you just never really know when you might get home. There is probably an extra fee for this service but I think it is worth the piece of mind to have that back-up. I spend a lot of time coordinating my son's care. My husband takes him and picks him up on the days I work and before I get home from work. I do believe that this job does provide the best of both worlds because you kind of do feel like you are a stay-at-home mom because of the generous time we have off. We are able to attend all of the activities that go on during the week like play and story groups, kids' day at the festivals and movie matinees. It surely isn't easy, but it is attainable with good communication, planning and patience. Best of luck to both of you!

Fighting Mommy

RE: Networking and workout partners — 07/24/05

I just read your message and I see that it was posted a while back. I currently work in Milwaukee as a FF/PM, but I was a volunteer for 8 long years before I was lucky enough to land this job. I live somewhat in your direction if you're still interested.


Subject: veteran firefighter — 07/21/05

I was wandering if there is a pension or other program that is available for volunteer veteran firefighters in New York state. I was injured in the line of duty on 2/6/03 and ended up retiring after 20yrs as a volunteer firefighter.

Yavonne Relyea

Subject: Thanks for advice on volunteer fire fighting — 07/20/05

I just wanted to tell Marley, Sara, and Dj thank you, for the information that was both needed and wanted very much. Marley thanks for the advice on wildland firefighting, their are many things I donít know about it still, and I appreciate your honest help and advice. My father was a wildland fire fighter but we donít seem to talk about the firefighting so much. He had a permanent job with forest service back in the 80"s before I was born, and we talk about his day to day work in the forest service so I can see if that would be a interest to me, but after he got a permanent job he did not have to fight so many fires.

I learned more about wildland firefighting on Thursday the 14, my father owns a ranch in northern California, and we had a fire on Thursday. It was crazy at my house, the fire was 15 to 20 feet in the air it was amazing, no structures burned, thank goodness but 20 acres did. The only good thing that came out of it was that I got to talk to some firefighters and get some advice.

I got a hold of the chief at my local station today. I tried on Thursday but he was not at home, come to find out that he was actually at my house but I was not able to make contact with him their because every thing was so crazy.

Iím going to start volunteer firefighting in three months in October because thatís when I will be 18. I am going to start going to the trainings on Tuesday nights in a couple of weeks. I have also decided to take a couple of forestry classes to see what I think. So I am hoping to find out what both worlds of firefighting are like.


thanks for reading this it is so nice to know that I can come here and get help and advice from other women fire fighters.


RE: Advice — 07/19/05


Good for you! Ninth grade is the best time to start preparing for a job in the fire service. I've got some advice (mostly learned from my own mistakes) that might be helpful.

1) Never let anybody tell you that you can't do the job. You have to live your life, not them. If you can do it, go for it.

2) Physical fitness is important. Work out regularly--what you do is not so important as how regularly you do it. And play team sports, with women's teams and with men's teams if possible. There are times when teamwork is required, and there are times when you need to run with the ball on your own, and team sports is a good place to learn that.

3) Take every learning opportunity you can. Science courses, math courses... hey, find a teacher in those areas who will work with you after school or during your free periods and cover topics that will be helpful, like the physics of pumping water. See what summer fire science courses are available at your local colleges.

4) Very important--get involved. Around here Explorers don't have a good reputation. I don't know if that's true everywhere. But check out the firehouse. Meet the firefighters and the line officers. Dress like you're serious, say, comfortable jeans, a t-shirt and work boots. (In other words, don't dress like you're trying to pick up guys in uniform.) Ask questions about the job and the apparatus. Offer to help during community education events. One more person blowing up balloons is always a good thing. Find a mentor who will teach you about the job and give you the inside scoop on internal politics. Get on everybody's good side, and you'll have people on your side when the time comes to take the tests.

Good luck, kick butt, and boy, I wish I was you.


RE: Advice — 07/19/05


Upon reflection, I realize I owe you an explanation. The reason I said "don't dress like you're trying to pick up guys in uniform" is because that is almost certainly the assumption that will be made about you. If a boy from your class started hanging around the firehouse, the assumption would be that he's interested in the job. If you do it, you're looking for a boyfriend.

I didn't realize that going in, and it made life hard for me. If I had known, I would have turned down offers with "No thank you, I'm not going to get involved with anyone here," instead of the simple "No, thank you," that some people seemed to take as a personal insult.

I made some enemies that way, and I'd rather not see you make the same mistake.


This is what I want to be — 07/19/05

Hi, Iím 15 years old and I'm from South Carolina. Ever since I was a little girl I have wanted to be a fire fighter, but now since Iím older its all I think about. I watch the movies, read the web sites, everything. I want to be a fire fighter in a big city, like New York or somewhere. I would join an explorer post of a fire department where I live but there are not many girls. Some of the guys I know and would not be comfortable around, because of discrimination and stuff because I'm a girl. I want to be a fire fighter so bad. I admire all of you women fire fighters for the work you do. If any of you have any advice about what I can do to be ready for when Iím older, as in training, workouts, and what classes in high school and college I need to take to prepare, please respond. It would be a great help. Thanks again so much.


RE: Advice — 07/19/05

Hi Rachel!

A good place to start would be to look in your area to see if they have a firefighter's explorerís program. The Explorer's program is part of the Boy Scouts Of America, but they allow females in the program. They have many kinds of explorer's programs, ranging from police, hospital, search and rescue, journalism and firefighting. It allows young people like yourself to get a sample of what kind of careers are out there. I was in one for journalism, and my brother was in a firefighter one. I don't have the web address, but you can probably find it out by doing a search for explorer's.

Don't let the "negative issues" on here discourage you. Go for it, and keep us posted!! Good luck!


RE: Volunteer fire fighting — 07/17/05

Hi Lauren.

I volunteer for a first-tier suburb of a large midwestern city, and we don't really have set shifts. We are divided into day and night responders. We are required to respond to a percentage of calls during our assigned time frame, be it days or nights. I can choose when I am available to take calls, but it is important to keep track of the call volumes so I can make sure I am making my numbers. Hope this information helps. I suggest you check with they city you plan on volunteering for to see what they expect. My guess is that every place has different requirements. Good luck!


Advice — 07/17/05

Hi, I'm thinking of being a fire fighter but I'm only in the ninth grade, and I'm kind of scared to pursue this because of what I've read on this message board. Does anyone have any advice for me? Thanks!!


RE: Volunteer fire fighting — 07/17/05

Hi Lauren,

I'm not sure how it is in other parts of the country, but volunteer departments in my area (New York) don't require long shifts. My department has a call quota. We carry a pager that alerts us to calls, and we must respond to 10 percent of them each year. Or, we can sign up for a duty shift and spend a few hours or an overnight at the station to meet our requirements. It's very flexible. A situation like that would be a good place for you to try out the fire service without committing to long work hours.

Many paid departments work 2 days and 2 nights, then 4 days off. I work for one of these and it is a FABULOUS schedule. Other departments near me (combination departments) have people who just work days. With some research, perhaps you can find a paid department that suits you. Good luck.


RE: Volunteer fire fighting — 07/17/05


Before you leap into wildland firefighting, understand two things:

1) The pay is lousy. It may not seem important, but it is entirely possible that the pay will be below the level which will allow you to survive, even during fire season. When I started, a wise old-timer pulled me aside and told me "You'll do one of two things: you'll get married, or you'll quit." I thought he was making reference to the fact that I was a woman, but he went on to explain that I would need another income in order to survive.

He was right.

2) Wildland firefighting and structural firefighting are two entirely different beasts. Just because you enjoy doing one doesn't mean you'll like the other. I've done them both and I love them both (though I love wildland firefighting more, to be honest), but my first time in wildland gear in a real fire was breathtaking. I didn't have the heavy, comforting security blanket of 70 pounds of bunker gear and SCBA, and the flames were 30-40 feet high and all around me, only a few feet away. (I've since learned about escape routes. ;^) I was used to fire being confined to a structure, and there are no words for how beautiful it was.

In my experience wildland training is better than structural training, with the focus on safety and survival, where structural training seems to be more focused on hazing and humiliation. It's also more comprehensive; in structural training you'll learn about structures, forcible entry, tools and hoses, communications and ICS, while in wildland and urban interface training you'll learn most of those things plus fuel types and terrain, weather, aircraft operations, and so on, and safety, safety, safety. You will live by LCES, you will recite the ten standard orders and the 18 watchout situations in your sleep.

Go to the fire academy, no matter what you'll be doing. Structural firefighting is a good thing to know. Even if you never again see the inside of a structure, knowledge of building construction will be useful in the interface, and when you're on incidents with structural departments, you'll understand what they're doing and why, and you'll know where to find them and what kind of help you can expect from them.

A few hundred words later, I can answer your questions: hours and shifts at volunteer departments vary by department. You might carry a pager and respond only when there's an incident. You might be required to do overnight or 24-hour shifts, once a week or whenever needed. Naturally, there are always meetings and training and community outreach events that will happen on odd nights or weekends. And if there is a large-scale event, assume you will be unavailable to work, school, and family for the duration.

It can be inconvenient, and employers who trumpet their "community involvement" will suddenly not be supportive when told you won't be available on Wednesday nights. Mine at the time insisted on scheduling me to come in at 0600 when they knew I was on duty 1800-0600. My crew covered for me for the last half hour for months.

Volunteer departments also understand that you have a family and a job. If training this month is scheduled for the same day you're doing inventory at work, they'll probably let you slide this month. Don't expect to do it every time, though.

Good luck,


RE: Women posting to this board — 07/17/05

I am a wildland firefighter and I need to vent, and I hope you will pass this on to other women in wildland fire. The FS has just had a big investigation about somone purchasing Nomex pants not from GSA. They are making a big deal out of this and are telling us if we purchase these outside of GSA, we will be billed and disciplinary action could be taken.

If they are going to force us to wear the GSA pants, they need to make them in women's sizes. The ones they have are unisex. Well, which sex do you think they fit better?? If they made the rise shorter for women, it wouldn't fit the men. I think all of us women wildland firefighters need to start something to change this. At least with the outside sources, some make women's sizes.

Thanks for the venting time!!! and please pass along word or emails.


RE: Getting hired — 07/17/05


Getting a government job can definitely try one's patience. I waited two years between testing and hiring because of my city's budget problems.

It is hard for me to tell from your message: do you have evidence that the department has passed you over on the list, or have they just not reached you yet? If the latter is true, I agree with Stacy that you should be patient and wait your turn on the list. Fitting in will be hard enough just because you are female. If you come on with a reputation for making unfounded complaints of discrimination, you may get an icy reception from your male coworkers.

Still, I would definitely research whether or not there actually is a law that one out of 13 hires must be female. If that's the only way you are reachable on the list, then so be it. It would be great if departments could diversify their workforce without resorting to preferential hiring, but many don't seem to manage it.

I would love to discuss the pros and cons of affirmative action, but it would be a five-foot long message. All I can say is, if that's how you get on, be prepared for a skeptical and perhaps hostile reception from people who hate affirmative action. It's a heated issue on the job. You will have to work very hard to overcome the stigma of preferential hiring.

The civil service list and any laws about preferential hiring should be available from the municipality that gave the test. It's public information. Call the county/city personnel office for a start. Maybe call your local government representative if you can't figure out where to get the info. Once you have all the information, you will know exactly where you stand and won't have to keep approaching the chief. From a pragmatic standpoint, you don't want to start your career by irritating the person who will be hiring you and who will be your boss.

Good luck in your tests.


RE: Pregnancy — 07/17/05

Hey Melissa -- you must be close to your due date by now. I'm just wondering how long you stayed on the truck? I am currently 15 weeks pregnant and work full-time on an engine. I do not want my chief to know yet, as we are in the middle of a grievance with our union, and we are not on good terms right now. I was wondering if you or anyone else who reads this actually has any concrete info on the effects of firefighting and pregnancy. Everyone has an opinion, it seems, but I am finding it hard to locate any concrete information. The only things my OB said to watch were heartrate and body temperature, but he can tell me nothing else (though he has cleared me to work). Does anyone have any advice or new information??


RE: Pregnancy — 07/17/05

DO NOT let them discriminate against you!! I advise you contact the EEOC regarding this...

I was a career firefighter who stayed FULL duty until two weeks prior to my daughter's birth. Only you and your doctor can dictate WHEN you go light duty or off work!!

Fortunately, I worked for a progressive-minded fire chief who viewed my unborn baby as the department's baby and shared in the joy of pregnancy. Firefighting is a team effort and I was assigned driver/operator through the pregnancy... considered legally as minor modifications under disability.

Best of luck to you and your baby... keep your head up and stand up for your rights. You worked hard for your career; don't let the male bastion interfere. Being pregnant does not make you fragile... I believe that by staying full duty and active, it made my labor and recovery easier! I even rode horses up to two days prior to delivery!

Fire Mom

Women posting to this board — 07/13/05

I am not a municipal or structural firefighter. I work in wildland fire. And, while the two "types" of fighting are different, I see now that the people are the same.

I want to thank all you brave women for your hard work, dedication, and intelligence. I was expecting this board to be a whine and moan session, but have seen that the challenges and ideas presented here are insightful, straightforward, and if not the most eloquent, they show a certain level of intelligence which is stereotypically not expected of women in male-dominated fields.

I look forward to monitoring this board for future postings and participating more in discussions as my life and career in fire and outside of fire progress.

I will also be passing this site to other wildland firefighters. Maybe we can gain strength and courage from each other and through this forum, bring our two "worlds" closer to understanding.


RE: Getting hired — 07/13/05

Maybe they are having problems with their budgets and they can't afford to hire anyone. That is happening to a lot of fire departments lately. Just keep at it and eventually you'll get a job. It just takes time and persistence.

I also have never heard of the women-to-men ratio you are referring to. The way I see it, if you are good enough, they will hire you. Personally I would not want anyone to hire me just because I am a woman. I want them to hire me because I am a good candidate. If you play the "I'm a woman and I should get hired because of that," that's where you run into problems. You will lose the respect of the guys because you are basically admitting that you are not good enough and have to be treated differently. They want to make sure that you can pull your own weight, becasue their lives will depend on you.

Good luck with your upcoming tests!


Volunteer fire fighting — 07/13/05

Hello, all. This coming August I was going to be taking the fire acdemy. Then I decided that being a city fire fighter or working for CDF would not be a good idea for me because of the shifts they work. I have decided to do work for the Forest Service and do some wildland fire fighting because if I get a permament job with the Forest Service, I will not have to work a 24/48 all the time -- only during the season when I am out in the middle of the woods.

But, sorry to say, I still have my heart for city fire fighting, so I figured I could volunteer for a year while I am still in school. So my question is, how often do volunteers work a 24-48? How do volunteer shifts and hours work in your guys' life?


P.S. Thank you for reading this.

Getting hired — 07/12/05

What does it really take for us women to get hired? I passed the CPAT, passed the EMS practicals with flying colors, passed the oral board, and am now on the eligibility list with a local fire/EMS department in Kansas. There should only be one to two more people ahead of me on that list, and recently the department lost 3 firefighters. (I know a few of the firefighters, and between our two counties, everyone knows everything as far as who gets hired, etc.) The Chief tried to tell me a few weeks ago that he hasn't hired anyone off of that list (told me a week after I tested that he had hired #1, #2, and #3 ) when I said '' You said a week after I tested that you had hired three people,'' he said, 'Oh yeah! I hired so and so, and so and so...'' etc.

At this point, I don't know if I really want to work for this department any more.They've had two women I believe in the past, but the old timers aren't accepting of women. (The new guys are, however.) This department has 12 firefighters I believe and for every 13 there has to be a woman. I'm wondering if anyone's got any advice. I'm testing with two more departments in the next two weeks. One is in South Dakota.


RE: Couple both firefighters want family — 07/10/05

I'm having the same problem at my department!!! What should I do?


Hello All — 07/10/05

Just wanted to say hi. This is my first time here, as I have just found this site. I must say, very well put together!! I am a 21-year-old firefighter and I have been doing this for about 5 1/2 years now. I feel very proud to be what I am, and us girls have to stick together! I am the only female in my family to become a firefighter, all the others are nurses or Hope everyone has a great day, and stay safe!


Aging — 07/10/05

When I started this job at age 31, fitness was something I thought I would never lose. I had great disdain for all the "lazy loafers" that didn't spend 2-3 hours per day at the gym, running or bicycling.

Well... now I'm 45 years old, and I am the lazy loafer! The stresses of life and the job have taken their toll, and a bout with depression this year added 50 pounds onto my 5'5" frame.

I am a follower, not a leader, and have opted not to promote. I'm in no physical shape to be a GOOD hoseman at this point. I'm having a hard time finding my way back to fitness, proficiency and confidence!

I feel as though I am starting from scratch. I have become a dumpy middle aged woman! I need to work 5-7 more years until retirement and I don't want to change careers at this point. However, I don't want to be a liability to my department.

Has anybody else gone through this? Any suggestions or motivational tips would be warmly welcomed.

Retired Firefighters on Vacation — 07/10/05

Hey there, traveling firefighters. You are welcome to camp out at the ranch if you end up along Hwy 101 in California. It is a short drive to Monterey or to San Simeon. back and I will give you our phone #. Wwe live in King City, California.

Harassment from fellow firefighters -- Help, please — 07/10/05

Hey Marley, I was getting worried about you. I hadn't heard from you for a while. All I can say about Nat is "WOW," what insight. I guess that, now that I really think about it, that is how I have coped all of these years. Marley, you really need to put some thought into what Nat has said. Your tone in your last message had gotten me worried. If you need us you know where to find us!!! I think that not only me, but anyone here would be willing to help you or just be a sounding board anytime. Please keep in touch and if you want to come visit California, just


RE: Elected Chief — 07/08/05


Congrats on your new position.


Subject: Introduction — 07/08/05

My name is Beck- or Becky, I have three kids ages 8-4-2. I joined our city's VFD a year or so ago. I have passed my FF1 mod1. I am going for my first responder and EMT class. We are in a small town and my husband is a FF also, heís had his first responder and is FF1 cert. We absolutely love the FF. When I joined last year, I was the only female who had joined in 10 years and there has been one who came after me. There were also two before me. One is the Chiefs wife. I just found this site today but think it will be a nice place to post.


Subject: Retired Firefighters on Vacation — 07/07/05

My best friend of 20 years and I are both retired from career fire service. She has been traveling alone throughout the U.S. in her 34' motor home. It is currently suffering from a windshield accident, so she is sitting in a campground in Las Vegas, with sweltering heat over 100 degrees, waiting repairs. I am flying out there tonight, and we would like to visit your fire houses, maybe even find some overnight accommodations. Anyone here working out there?


RE: Harassment from fellow firefighters -- Help, please — 07/07/05


I had never thought to separate the profession from the department before. That's a interesting idea and I'll have to put some thought into understanding it.

Even when I've acted to help people outside of my official capacity I did so with the knowledge that I was a representative of my department. It gave me authority and confidence, I suppose, and held me to a high standard; I've been careful to never do anything that might raise questions within my department.

E-mail is on the way. Thank you.


RE: Elected Chief — 07/06/05


It's great to hear that you get along with 95 percent of the guys in your department. I started out the same way. I took orders like everyone else, took lots of training classes, both hands-on and classroom, showed I was eager to learn, and showed respect to others. You have to earn respect and can't demand it. When I got promoted to a company officer, I didn't treat other firefighters (women or men) in a demeaning manner. You can't let the position and any authority go to your head. It's amazing how much people respect you when you carry your load and show them that you are trying and want to keep learning. People respond in a positive way. And, one last thing, don't act like you know it all ! There is always something to learn. Hope this helps !!


RE: Promotion — 07/06/05


Thanks so much for the encouragement !! I'm finding out that I have alot more backing from the older members than I thought and have earned many firefighter's respect because of the way I've shown that I want to move up in the rankings and want to learn. Too many of the youger guys don't show respect and think they know it all. I keep learning every day and trying to improve my skills in any way I can. Thanks again for your words of advice !


RE: Harassment from fellow firefighters -- Help, please — 07/05/05

Hi Marley,

Take as much time as you need to rest, heal, and recover from your experiences. It helps me to separate the fire service profession (helping others) from the department I work for because the two are not always synonymous in purpose even though related. There is a responsibility to both the profession and the department but the profession itself is service on a very personal level, to everyone, equally, without regard for politics or status. The responsibility on a departmental level includes upholding policies and practices and striving for solutions and improvements when this doesn't occur or needs to be revised. Both, personal commitment and departmental integrity are tantamount to the quality of service provided. Everyone is adversely affected, including the people we provide emergency services for, when this does not occur.

Don't beat yourself up over the actions (and lack of action) of others. Maybe there is a different fire department in your future or maybe your leaving this one has opened some eyes in management so that change can occur. You have options and a future ahead of you even though that may not appear clearly to you now. Believe me, the day will come when you will care again. Life is not without purpose (or speed bumps)! Separate the department from the profession, the politics from the passion. Take one day at a time. Contact me directly if you want to vent. My e-mail address is


RE: Retirement — 07/05/05


Congratulations. I'm wiping away tears of what I know must be joy for you.

Enjoy your retirement. You've earned it.


Subject: Help getting on with San Francisco Fire Department — 07/05/05

Hey, if anyone is a San Francisco firefighter or knows the process, please let me know.

I just finished my Firefighter I academy and I have my EMT, and I really want to be a Fire/Medic in San Francisco for many reasons such as it is a large department, well known. I know that they give the civil service test and that you need to score high on it. What is the best book or civil service test to study for their particular exam?

Also I know that you now have to pass the CPAT to get in. I was wondering if anyone may also kindly give me advice on how to pass the oral interview (if I make it that far).

If anyone can help me it would be greatly appreciated, as I want this so bad and I am not going to let anyone stop me.


RE: Passed the CPAT! — 07/05/05

What training did you do to successfully pass the CPAT?


Subject: Alkaline phosphate level low — 07/05/05

I had my blood drawn for my medical to get on with my local department. Everything came back fine except my alkaline phosphate was a 34, and the normal level is 38-100.

I had my mother (who is a registered nurse) research it, and she found out that it means that I am low in magnesium, phosphorus, and protein. This came to me as a big surprise, as I have a hard time holding muscle on me and I lift hard 3 times a week.

Has anyone had this problem, and if so what did you do for it? I am going to start taking my GNC women's vitamins on a regular basis, and I have upped my protein intake.

Any advice would help =)


RE: Harassment from fellow firefighters -- Help, please — 07/04/05

This is the first time I've been able to bring myself to read this message board. Mentally, I'm in bad shape right now.

Jennifer, I agree, which is a small part of the depression I'm feeling. I wish I could have found a way to stay. I wish I had found the slightest bit of support from co-workers or supervisors. I wish the coward who was tampering with my vehicles had the balls to look me in the eye and say what he was thinking, or even just to take a swing at me.

He didn't. Nobody did. This isn't the type of job where I have to be concerned about my reports being undermined or my lunch getting stolen from the fridge. This is the type of job where the police can show up on my doorstep and tell my family "I regret to inform you that Marley has died in the line of duty in a tragic accident."

I had several friends there, but they were too far away and powerless to help. The people I needed to watch my back were too busy watching the retirement clock.

I love the job. Life really is meaningless without it. Even the minor emergencies that have happened to me or around me since then hold no interest for me, and people wonder how I can stay so calm. "Training?" No. I just don't care.

Marlene, Old Fire Gal and Nat: thank you. I know what you're saying is true, and I do believe it in a disconnected sort of way. Maybe someday when I have some distance (or I'm back on the job) it will be clearer to me. In the meantime, I'll just keep going every day because I don't know how to stop.

Be safe, everyone, and watch your back.


Subject: Retirement — 07/04/05

I just wanted to bid a fond farewell to all the courageous and amazing women of the fire service.

I just ended my 25-year career at the age of 48. I am happy to report that I will receive a service pension having suffered nothing more serious than an ankle sprain!

My career was filled with many exciting moments, honors, laughs and events too varied and amazing to begin to chronicle... although a big highlight was giving birth to my son eight years ago. He now gets his mommy "fulltime"!!

Good luck to all of you....those just starting and those coming to an end of the best profession ever created.

My journey was at times bittersweet, but always an honor and privilege to be a part of such an amazing group... especially the women firefighters I had the pleasure to work with over the years. They made the journey worth it and will be my lifelong friends.

Keep fighting the good fight.


Subject: starting out — 06/30/05
I am just begining my career in the firefighting world. I am in the process of starting the fire academy through a local community college, then thereafter applying for Phoenix AZ. I am currently a registered EMT and would love any advice for starting out and how to "get in". In Phoenix over 2700 people applied for the written exam this year. Very competitive. Mostly men, but lots more women than I thought and that made me very happy!
RE: Making the move from Industrial FF to Municipal — 06/29/05

I'm not sure this will help, but with Federal FF jobs, the age limit is 37, but it is in reference to a starting age. If you have prior qualifying years in the ff profession, those years are subtracted from your true age. If that age comes out below the cutoff age, you qualify. It sounds confusing, but the USFS and the NPS use this to determine eligibility. Maybe you can use this for your case.


RE: Elected Chief — 06/28/05

Congratulations Janet!

It is always great to hear when someone moves up through the ranks to the top! I would love to talk to you about your progression through the ranks and some other ideas. I have finally gotten approval (and support) to run a program on leadership and career development for women in the fire service, in NH, and would love to talk with you.

Also, as always, I love to hear from others about their journey to get into the fire service -- both successes and "works in progress".

Stay safe,


RE: Elected Chief — 06/28/05

Janet, Tina and all you other officers and officer-hopefuls out there,

I want to be an officer someday, but I worry that many guys will have trouble taking orders from a woman. I get along great with 95 percent of the men I work with, but will all that change if I get promoted? What's your experience of being an officer? How have people reacted you you being their boss? Any tips for how to become an effective officer?

Thanks much. Sara

RE: Couple both firefighters want family — 06/27/05

Are you on light duty? I am trying to get information the issue. My department right now is saying that they are not going to use anything but fmla which is only 12 weks. Then no pay and no medical till I get back.


RE:Women's Fire/Duty Boots — 06/27/05


Thank you!! Actually, right after I wrote that my Capt. told me if I could find them myself, he'd make sure I got them. I went to a uniform store and found them in 10 min, what took the other guys 2.5 yrs. I went with Lions' "Special Fighter US Lady" from Haix. They are in accordance with NFPA 1971 to 2000, so I wear them for dual. Phew. Feels so good to not stumble around the drill ground and have my boots fall off. Thank you for your help. :) Now if only my gloves fit.


Elected Chief — 06/27/05

I've been in the fire service since 1980. I worked my way up the ladder and have been an officer since 1996. Well, guess what? Two years ago, I was elected to the Deputy Chief's posistion, and I was just elected to take over the Chief's position July 1st, with 45 men and 6 women voting me in on a single ballot! I have been acting chief since January. Anything is possible!

Would love to email with other women officers and bounce some ideas back and forth. Not just officers - all women firefighters have great ideas on accomplishing tasks in the fire service. I hope to hear from some of you soon.

I just joined this organization today.!


RE: Promotion — 06/27/05


Been there, done that, and you have to turn the other cheek to live through it.

I have been an officer in a volunteer department since 1996. It was not easy climbing the "boys" ladder. I spent many tears on frustration from the good old boys' club. But, I keep going. Kept up with the training and never asked anyone to do anything I wasn't willing to do myself. I showed every member respect -- even when I want to spit in their face -- and I won the majority of them over. Now, not only do I have their respect in return, but I was just elected chief.

Don't give up! Even when the mud flies during the months before the election, don't sink to that level. Respect them always, and you'll move up!


RE: Finding gloves that fit — 06/24/05


Oops! That's what I get for writing when I'm on a double! The brand name is Shelby, and the company that Logistics dealt with was great about me sending my "paw" print and having them size me.


RE: Will I ever be the same? — 06/24/05

I too love this job and I can only begin to imagine what you have been going through.

I truly believe that the right therapist could help you through all of this. Please find one that you connect with even if you have to go through a bunch of them to get the right fit.

The fire service needs women that have the passion for this career that you obviously have. Don't give up. We need you.


RE: I want it NOW! — 06/23/05

You're doing a good job researching your future career, but don't be fooled by movies. Often enough, you'll see fully engulfed fires with little to no smoke inside, which is unrealistic. I believe I saw a man not wearing a Nomex hood with a SCBA... Also, don't be too swayed by the "heroism" and "glory" of firefighting. Yes, you'll have that, but it's a lot of hard work, pain, and personal suffering. They don't show you all the death and anguish that is reality on a fire scene. If I were you, I'd talk to some real firefighters and also a school counselor. They may have info for schooling amounst other things.

Tina L.

RE: A girl with a dream — 06/23/05

Hello dear,

It's nice to see that there are young women interested in the fire service. Feel free to call us "fire fighters" rather than women firemen. I really think you should find some local firefighters, be it volunteer or professional, and strike up a chat. Even better if you can find some female firefighters.


RE: Couple both firefighters want family — 06/23/05


There is nothing wrong with wanting to be a mom and a firefighter. When you decide to have a family, it will not be easy, but between you and your husband it can work out if you both try.

I am currently pregnant with my first. My husband and I are both firefighters. Our shifts run differently so one of us will always be home. There maybe one or two days a month we may have to use family or close friend for a sitter, but it's well worth it when you can have both a family and carreer.

You may want to look into meeting firefighters with stay home spouses. Some will jump at the chance to make a little extra money and also understand your work schedule and demands.

I'll try to keep you posted as things progress and I find out what works and what doesn't. :)


RE:Women's Fire/Duty Boots — 06/23/05

I have had great success with Warrington duty and turnout boots. They are so comfortable. You can't go wrong with them.

Best of luck. Carmel

looking for CPAT workout buddie — 06/21/05

Hi! I am preping for CPAT in the Washington, DC area. Would love to find someone to workout with. shoot me an

Patti Knerr

RE: CPAT Prep — 06/21/05

Erica -

Here's a couple tips that helped me get my 5-5, 140-pound self through the CPAT.

First, make sure you have the cardiovascular fitness to get past the step mill with enough legs to complete the rest of the course. I found a 17-story building in my town and climbed it every week. Hill running is also good, or any running that incorporates intense anaerobic portions. If you are not already doing an upper body workout, start now. Focus on grip, arm, back and shoulder strength. Also, improving technique can shave off seconds. Find someone who can make sure you are swinging the sledgehammer effectively. Try to get the inside scoop on the maze before your CPAT. For the pull-down machine, use your legs to lift it (by putting one hand on the bottom of the pole) and then hang on it to pull down (like ringing a church bell). Your arms and grip will be whipped by this point.


RE:chain saw — 06/21/05

Deya -

As for chainsaws, I used to have problems starting them. I realized it was more a matter of technique than physique. I'm a city girl who never started any machine with a cord before getting to the academy. Most of the guy firefighters I know are country boys who grew up with saws and lawnmowers so it was easy for them.

Have you tried stepping through the hand-hole or kneeling on the top of the saw to hold it steady while you pull? (not sure how the Stihl is configured) How about the choke? Are you shutting off the choke as soon as the engine turns over and then pulling some more? I used to flood the motor a lot until someone showed me this. I'm sure you can do it if you keep practicing.

It can't hurt to add some shoulder and back strength too. Military presses, lateral raises, rows and pull-downs will help you show that saw who's boss.


RE: CPAT Prep — 06/21/05


I am a female fire fighter from Toronto, Canada. There is a page on the City of Markham website that shows you how to train specifically for the CPAT test. Also if you go on the CPAT website they have suggestions for training. If you are really serious, hire a personal trainer and give them details of the test and how long you have to get ready for it. They will put a program together for you for these specific needs! Good Luck! I'm sure you will kick butt!!!


RE:Finding Gloves that fit — 06/20/05

Thanks! I would love the brand name... thanks also to the woman with the suggestion of the photocopy of her hand! I'll try that too!


RE: just starting out and have ? — 06/20/05

You should check out the CPAT workout. I was having trouble in my college academy with the physical agility; I started that training and by the end of the academy this May I had shattered my time from a 10:00 to 4:52. It consists of circuit training which helps us women. I'm a 21 years old 5'5 140-pound Latina and I am not a big person and I did everything all of the men did and I put in double the time, but hey I got the same certificate on May 11, 2005 so don't ever let anyone stop you from your dreams. Good luck! If you have any questions =)


RE: California girl looking for some pointers — 06/20/05

Hey, I am right near you! I just graduated from the Los Medanos College fire academy. You should use the CPAT training program -- look it up on I used that in the academy and I am 5'5 140 pounds. I am not too muscular either, but I handled my own. It's actually good to lose weight because you are circuit training. Good luck! Any questions =)


Starting Stihl chain saw — 06/20/05

Does anyone have any tips on starting stihl chainsaws? I am having trouble starting the chainsaw. When I was in the academy I could throw the 24-foot ladder and do everything else, but I struggled with the chainsaw. I had an instructor tell me it was my strength, but my boyfriend who is a firefighter said that is not true. I know it is based on technique, but what is the best way for a 5'5" 140-pound female with medium muscular build? I am going crazy because I would be sitting there throwing my arm out for an hour only to start it once. What is the problem? Any help would be greatly appreciated please with a response.


Couple both firefighters want family — 06/20/05

My significant other and I want to have children in the next four years. I am just getting hired as a firefighter and he has been one for 7 years. We both want 2 children. I don't know how we will do it if we are both firefighters. I know we will need family support, but anyone with advice who knows anything please send it my way.

Also I am nervous because I am a 5'5" 140-pound female with a medium muscular build and I am nervous that I will get too heavy or lose the little bit of muscle that I have (I have a hard time keeping muscle). I am in the Bay area in northern California, and firefighting is very competitive here. I have a love for firefighting and want to keep my relationship with my husband healthy and also be there for my children and stay in shape to continue my job. Any advice would be greatly appreciated if anyone can Thank you =)


Scared about starting fire school — 06/20/05

My husband is a firefighter and I just finished the fire academy. People filled my head with I couldn't do it and I found a way to be mentally strong through it all. You will see how much your body can do. We really under estimate ourselves. I did things that when I looked back on it I was like I did that =) if you need motivation you can e-mail me because I know it is tough but if you really want it you will do it. One thing I can say is once you mentally psych yourself out your body will quit so always be positive and do not stop or quit keep going until your body actually gives up.


CPAT Prep — 06/20/05

I am a 20 year old female from Nova Scotia, Canada. I have just finished my Level 1/2 cert and am doing my on job training which is required as part of my fire school training. Despite all my fitness training both at the gym and at the school, I don't think I am strong enough to pass the CPAT. I have about 2 months before I can do a practice run of the CPAT. Can anybody pass along some pointers, or know of a website which might offer some suggestions?

Thanks so much, Erica

RE: just starting out and have ? — 06/17/05


I am an oncall firefighter in Michigan (and am the type that also holds a full time job in another field.)

A lot of the younger firefighters that I've known that are pursuing a full time career will start out working for a volunteer or paid oncall department. Typically, basic training including Firefighter 1&2, EMT Basic (some places still MFR), and HazMat are sponsored by the department once you are hired. If your department allows you to become active on hire, you may also be issued gear.

The greater benefit of joining a department is that you will have people outside of the classroom to pass along experience, and give you tips (especially with equipment). If you are active, you can also learn a lot from being on scene.

Hope this helps, Jane

just starting out and have ? — 06/16/05

Hi; my name is Melissa. I'm a 20-year-old single mom from Shelby, Michigan.

I'm currently in EMT Basic classes and looking to go into the Fire Academy in the spring. I'm very excited; however I'm having trouble finding help with financial aid for the academy. I tried government grants and have been looking for scholarships but so far everyone will only help with college classes not an academy. Does anyone have any suggestions?

Also, does anyone have any suggestions for the agility test to get into the academy? It's very completive here: only 30 people get in, and it's not very often a woman passes the agility test. What should I expect for the test? Any suggestions on how to make sure I'm noticed and taken seriously, not just written off for being a female?

Thanks, Melissa

RE: Pregnancy WARNING! WARNING! WARNING! — 06/16/05

Be VERY sure that you will actually receive that 60% of your pay. When I was pregnant 2 1/2 years ago I was told the same thing. I went out at 27 weeks of pregnany thinking that when my sick leave and vacation leave ran out that I would get 66 2/3 of my pay. The INSURANCE CARRIER said that pregnancy is not a disability and they DID NOT PAY! My fire district's response was essentially "Oh well. Too bad." I was looking at 4 months WITHOUT PAY! Thankfully, sadly, my back went out as a complication of pregnancy and only then did the insurance pay. Please. Be VERY certain that the insurance company covers pregnancy whether it is a complicated pregnancy or not.

Burned in St. Louis County, Laurie

boots and gloves — 06/15/05


XS gloves have worked very well for me. I too have long fingers and a small palm. I faxed a hand print to the company that they were purchased through and they sent me the glove that fit.

Boots ... ah yes. same issue also. I had to keep trying them on in front of the logistics guy, shaking my foot and have him watch me launch them off my foot for several pairs. It took 6 months but he finally found a women's boot that fit. I can't read the name anymore so I'm trying to get hold of him to see what he bought.


RE: Pregnancy — 06/15/05

Thank you to all of you who have given feedback concerning the pregnancy issue. The people I work for are making it very difficult. I have discovered that my chief has been telling lies. He has been telling me that Human Resources for our company has been telling him what to do. Well, I decided to speak to them myself, and they told me that they have said no such things and that they don't know where he is coming up with his information. It is pretty discouraging to work for someone who consistently lies to your face. Anyhow, Human Resources still does not have a complete answer for me. At this point they have told me that they would send me home as soon as I declared the pregnancy, and put me on short-term disability for six months, and then I would have to file a long-term disability claim for the remainder of the pregnancy. Throughout all of this I would only be collecting 60% of my pay. Not exactly what I wanted to hear, but I guess it is better than nothing. I guess the thing that makes me mad, is that they would have the ability to put me in a light duty position and allow me to work straight days, but they would choose not to and send me home. It's just frustrating to know that they care very little for their firefighters.

Thank you all again for your input. If you have any more, please let me know. I guess I'll quit venting now.


Women's Fire/Duty Boots — 06/14/05

Hey everyone, first, I had a great time at the WFS conference in DC. (My first.) I met so many great people.

My question is this, I am the first female to be hired by my great department (of 80 men). The supplies guy is having a hard time finding me replacement duty (day) and structural (or even dual) fire boots. I have a pretty normal foot (8 in women's, D width) and have had no problems before, but I was wondering if anyone has any suggestions where to get them?

My structural boots come off while searching, and my duty boots are so old the zippers won't stay up, there is no tread on the bottoms, and they make big blisters on the side of my toe. This has taken 2.5 yrs and still the supplies guy is having problems. He tells my officer he's tried "7 distributors and none fit her". Actually, I believe he's tried 3 and all men only. I guess if you go shopping in the "tighty whity section" of 7 department stores, you're never going to find a thong!" Sorry, just a little frustrated. :)

Thanks for any help, can't wait to see you all at the next conference!!


Making the move from Industrial FF to Municipal — 06/08/05

Hello everyone!

I am currently a firefighter/EMT for BP Refinery in Texas City, Texas. I would like to make the move from industrial ff to municipal but have met a road block. Because I am 40 I do not meet the age requirement of 18-35 which to me is discrimination even if they state that they do not discriminate because of age. I'm not sure if this is just something that is followed in Texas or other states also. If anyone can give me some advice around this problem I would greatly appreciate it.

Take care and be safe, Tenna

RE: Finding Gloves that fit — 06/08/05

I've found X-small gloves work best for me. Most glove companies have them. I can get the actual brand I wear if you want. Let me know.


RE: California girl looking for some pointers — 06/07/05

Hey there Beth,

I am 18 years old and live in Benicia (not far from you) and have been a member of the explorer post here for three years, I've gone to two CFEA (California Fire Exploring Association) Academies and will be moving to Los Angeles in August to get my AS in Fire Science and also further my EMT to a licensed paramedic.

Benicia doesn't really have any standards for like how much working out and stuff that we need to do, but because I'm moving to So-Cal and want to eventually get in on their Explorer post, I've been doing running every other day for an hour, I do the stair climber for 35 minutes, and then I do alot of lat pulls, and free weights to keep my upper body strength up to speed. I'm not a little thing either, I've always battled with my weight, I'm 5'5 and at one point was 200 pounds which I knew wouldn't cut it in the fire service, so now I'm down to 170 or so and I'm doing great. if you need any help with anything dont be afraid to


Impact of Harassment/Discrimination — 06/06/05

I have found two very good articles discussing the impact of harassment and discrimination on individuals and organizations beyond just the legal implications. The first is written by Dr. Portia Rawles and is titled "Discrimination More Than a Legal Concern". You can find it by clicking here.

The second article is written by Thomas M. Cunningham, Fire Officer IV, U.S. Naval Academy Fire Department. It is titled "Bully for you" and can be accessed by clicking here.

Both articles emphasize the physical, psychological, and social aspects of discrimination and harassment, not just the legal potential for lawsuits.


RE: Canadian peers, pregnancy policies — 06/06/05

Hey there;

This is probably too late, but the Calgary Fire Department has just had its first woman go into a light duty position. She went to training and then had her child. I had no idea how lucky we are in Canada to have the mandatory one year paid maternity leave, but now that I read about these poor women in the US I am shocked. The lady (now there are 4 off) will (should) be allowed back to work with no questions asked. The only catch might be that our FD doctor might have to approve her to come back. I also wait to see how they are treated. All I know for sure is that maternity leave is law and that your job must be given back to you at the end of your leave.


RE: Promotion — 06/06/05

Get up and RUN.

I was the youngest female volunteer deputy fire chief in my province (like a state)! It was great. Some of the guys were asses but the majority were glad that I had the guts to try. True that you learn from everything, and guys told me afterwards that they voted for me but were afraid to tell the other guys. Take a stand, you will do a great job and learn lots, win or lose. I also must add, that if we don't stand up and try for positions of power we are choosing not to elicit change. Do we honestly think the whole fire-MAN world will change without our holding their feet to the flame??? Good luck.


Finding Gloves that fit — 06/06/05

Does anyone have any suggestions for a brand of structural firefighting gloves that fit a woman's hand? I am tall, so I have long fingers, but a small palm. I currently wear small, though they are still baggy around the hand and the fingers barely cover the second knuckle. The mediums are way too big and fall off. I can't be the only one with this problem. I would love any suggestions.



RE: Pregnancy — 06/02/05

I am the only female firefighter of 46 paid in my town. I have 13 years on the job. Eight years ago I became pregnant and realized our contract didn't address maternity leave. You need to find out what your state has for a Family Leave Act. In my state (CT) my employer, because of the number of employees, could allow me to use my vacation and sick time. I was also allowed to take a six-week unpaid leave with another optional six weeks unpaid without losing medical benifits or seniority. My department does not have a light duty position. I worked until one month before both my children were born.

The important thing is to find out what your state's Family Leave Act entails.


RE: Pregnancy — 06/02/05

I just read your post. Three years ago, I had my third child. I stayed working on the rigs for all of my pregnancies; with my third I was about six months when I went to light duty. A few hours after my son was born, we found out that he had a congenital heart defect, Tetralogy of Fallot, which includes, among other abnormalities, a ventricular septal defect.

I wondered after the diagnosis if I had caused it. All of the doctors said that it didn't have anything to do with me being a firefighter. I wonder now. I have been an Equipment Operator for five years. I did not go into any fires during this pregnancy.

I stayed on the rigs because I knew that I would have more stress on light duty: the guys basically shun us when we are on light duty. I am not planning any more children.

For all of you out there, ask your doctors about the heart defect issue. It's strange to me that there was a study on male firefighters having a higher incidence.


RE: California girl looking for some pointers — 05/31/05

Hi Beth,

I am an SJFD Engineer working at Station 21B.I am not currently involved with the Explorers, but am certainly willing to talk to you about your aspirations. I am back to work on Tues this week, if you'd like to give me a call.


Will I ever be the same? — 05/31/05

About 3 years ago I was raped, and since then I have suffered from PTSD and on light duty. I have been a FF for all most 10 years now with such a passion for the heat and had such ambition with great accomplishments throughout my career. Now recently a certain incident occured where I was reminded of my incident which threw me in a vortex to the rape itself. I am in the military now, and I am being medically dischared due to the PTSD. Now I feel so worthless. I can't even put a mask on with out freaking out, and refuse to carry a burden of letting anyone down because I have a panic attack durring an emergency. I cry because I love this career especially on the operational side. Now because of this I fear that no one will ever hire me, or worse I won't be able to wear a mask and feel the heat ever again. Any advice?


Re: Pregnancy — 05/31/05

The dept. I retired from has had several FF's that got pregnant. The only person we could take direction from about their condition to work was their doctor. The fire chief never made a decision about working conditions unless the doctor told us to do something. We felt it was like any other medical condition,it's between the patient and the doctor what to do. One of the FF drove an ARFF unit darn near until she delivered. Some others chose to go into dispatch. They suffered a loss in pay due to fewer work hours, but all went back on shift as soon as they could.


Extreme Makeover seeking female firefighters — 05/27/05

Extreme Makeover is seeking female rescue workers in the United States who are intersted in getting an Extreme Makeover.

For more information please e-mail Talia at . Include your name, age, occupation, phone numbers and what you would like to change from head to toe.



RE: Harassment from fellow firefighters -- Help, please — 05/27/05

Training alone will not stop harassment or hostile work environments. Sometimes, sexual harassment training just seems to drive a deeper wedge among the work force. Resentment increases over the perception that some "groups" of people deserve special protection or treatment. Instead of helping to integrate women into the fire service, in many ways it further alienates us by setting us apart from others by virtue of gender alone, regardless of professional abilities. And then with all of the emphasis on lawsuits and legal liabilities in harassment training, even fewer people are willing to accept or interact with you for fear of involvement in a lawsuit.

Maybe "teamwork" training would be the better approach. The reality is that harassment will continue until attitudes change and we truly begin to value and respect each other as firefighters and people regardless of gender. This has to happen in ALL levels of an organization. And here is another great concept: accountability. Not just accountability of the person being harassed to report the incident(s) but accountability of management to take effective corrective action so that the abuse stops and does not escalate further. I don't know what the answer is to get to that point. My personal experience has been that reporting concerns/complaints leads to an increase in the severity, frequency, and scope of the hostile work environment.

I do know that nothing good comes out of harassment. It is destructive, divisive, vindictive, and breeds resentment while destroying trust and diminishing quality of service. It is a cancer that spreads far too easily, and few people want to address it.

Marley had to make a choice based on events that probably should have never happened to begin with. It is not her responsibility to be a victim of harassment and to tolerate it because she is female. It is the responsibility of the department she works for and the people she works with to treat her with the same care, respect, and support that they would demand for themselves.


Trying to find a firefighter who my friend met — 05/25/05

I know this sounds mad, but my friend Tory met a firefighter, and I would like to contact her and surprise Tory.

The firefighter is called Nicky or Sarah, and she lives and works in eastern Virginia on the coast. She is about 5 ft 7 inches, blonde short hair and slim build with blue eyes.

They met in Palm Springs at the end of March this year. The firefighter dropped her bracelet; Tory has it, and would love to return it to her. The firefighter has been ill recently, and Tory was inspired by her braveness.

Tory and myself both live in England. If you can help us please get in touch.


RE: Harassment from fellow firefighters -- Help, please — 05/25/05

Marley, I am really sorry you had to leave a job you loved. What happened to you is wrong, and I hope you will find some way to rejoin the fire service in an environment where your safety and sanity are not put at risk by those who are supposed to have your back.

Jennifer, your attitude saddens me, too. Marley felt her safety, and even possibly her life, were at risk. She had no support within the department, and made a painful choice to take care of herself in the best way she saw.

You may disagree with that, and feel she should have fought harder and longer. I would have liked her to do so, too. But I wasn't the one in that position. It was Marley's call to make.

Most importantly, her "failure" to continue fighting is NOT "why women get harassed even more." Harassment continues because some fire departments (and other employers) still don't take seriously their legal responsibility to stop it. They don't do the training that would prevent it, and they don't take proper action when it occurs.

Whether you agree with Marley's decision to leave the job or not, let's put the blame for harassment where it belongs: on the harassers and their employers, and not on those who are targeted and beaten down by it.

Old Fire Gal

RE: Harassment from fellow firefighters -- Help, please — 05/23/05

I can't believe you quit. We have all had harassment but you toughen up and they stop. You show them that they can't push you around and they stop. Now they have won, this is why women get harassed even more. If you don't stand up for yourself, no one will.


Pregnancy issues — 05/19/05

Even though my department can be pretty short-minded, I have to say that the pregnancy issue was an easy one to deal with. I found myself becoming a single mom and I spoke to my Chief at the time, I was told that I could even bring my child to the station and perform light duty.

Luckily, I have a cool sister that lived with me and would bring my infant daughter out to me so that she could nurse, and I was allowed to take days when I needed them. A few years later, I was asked by a close friend if I would consider being a surrogate for her and her husband. I spoke to Personnel and was shocked that they would be willing to keep me on light duty untill the baby was born, and back to full duty when I felt able. As luck would have it, they tried in vitro and had a child on their own, but I have never forgotten how willing that they were to work with me in that situation.

It seems to me that most of the departments that I have read about in the message boards here are so small-minded and unwilling to work with us women. I realized early in my career that this is truly a man's job that caters to their needs and issues. We really do get penalized for being the childbearers of the family.

Good Luck to all.


Marie Claire magazine seeking female firefighters — 05/19/05

Marie Claire magazine is seeking female rescue workers in the New York tri-state area for a larger story on body image. Please get in touch with the writer if you'd like more information.

Email Mackenzie at . Include your name, age, occupation, phone numbers and a clear/flattering photograph.


Promotion — 05/19/05

I'm currently 1st Lieutenant in my volunteer department. We hold elections in November for all offices. I've been a line officer for three years and have been in my department for five years. I'm looking to advance. I want to run for Assistant Chief, but have heard some rumors that the older guys aren't ready for a "woman chief," that I should give the the guy who is Captain a chance and run for the next office (which is Captain), and that I'm not ready for that position.

I honestly believe that in all positions you learn something about the fire service. Of course, being the person that I am, all these comments just make me want to run against this guy who would run for Ass't Chief even more. I've heard many of the members don't want him as Ass't Chief because he doesn't treat others very well, he thinks he knows it all, and he thinks he deserves it.

I'm not sure if I should run against him. It's not like he is that friendly with me. We have alot of animosity on our junior line officers... you know, the "clique." Any advice would be helpful and much appreciated!!!


Designing a program for women...need some opinions! — 05/19/05

Hi All,

I am looking for some opinions and/or thoughts. I am working on developing a program on leadership and career development for women in the fire service in my state, New Hampshire. We have fewer than 15 full-time women on the job, including myself. I work for the second-biggest city in the state, and we employ only one other woman on the job.

My goal with this program is to target the women trying to get into the fire service in not only New Hampshire, but also Massachusetts, Maine and Vermont. There is nothing like this around, and we now average 30-40 women taking the CPAT test here each year (only one has passed so far.)

I am very close to getting the State Fire Academy on board with this, and have the full support of many of the departments in the state. I am looking for any suggestions/input that you may have! A few topics that we will include are, passing/training for the CPAT, hiring interviews, being a FFOP, firehouse tradition, women's integration into the fire service, goalsetting, FD career paths, and networking. There are others as well, but these are a few. This is scheduled to run for two days as of right now.

Please feel free to with your thoughts!

Thanks in advance!!!!


RE: Pregnancy — 05/19/05

Michelle and Kelly,

Thank you both for the info. Since my post I have been looking into my company's policies. One big problem that I am facing is that I do not work for a city department; I work at a national laboratory in Idaho. My department is basically awarded by the Department of Energy to the highest bidder for the lab.

As far as injured firefighters goes, if the injury was on the job then they are assigned to light duty. With that you work Mon thru Thurs 10 hours a day with guaranteed overtime. If the injury occurred off the job, then the firefighter is required to use up the STD and vacation hours that they have accrued. If you run out, that is your problem.

The big problem that I will run into as far as restrictions, is that there is potential to be exposed to radiation during a response, and I just don't think the docs are gonna let that fly. The thing that blows me away, is that in looking at the company policy for the rest of the facility, even janitors are reassigned if the docs put them on restriction; they are not sent home til after they deliver. I started as a janitor, and I know that it doesn't get much easier than that. It just bothers me that they are willing to help out other employee's, but they could care less about the firefighters.

Well, I have babbled enough. I do appreciate all your input and would appreciate any more that you could offer.

Thanks again!


Getting in shape — 05/19/05

I think that the best time I was ever fit was when I was training at the academy. After I have my baby, how long does it take to shed those pounds? And what's the best exercise to do while I'm home recuperating and when I go back to full duty?


RE: CPAT Training — 05/19/05

I found the ceiling breach and pull to be difficult until I realized the trick is not to use upper body to push and pull, but to hold the pike pole close to your body to get under it and push up and sit down with your weight on the pull. I have learned to use my legs as much as I can in passing the CPAT and in the fire service. Women have a very strong and resistant lower body, and I have learned to use that to my advantage.


RE: Pregnancy — 05/16/05

At our department, we are given the choice of going to light duty, which is 12 hours in the office and then 12 hours of being the battalion aid. Or we can go to an ambulance, if our doctor does not put us on any restrictions. Also, if your doctor does put you on light duty, you should be treated the same as everyone else is who has to go on light duty. Our problem is that after we have our baby, we get 40 hours off and then have to use vacation time or trades or sick time for the rest of our maternity leave.

Kelly Elder

RE: Harassment from fellow firefighters -- Help, please — 05/16/05

I went back to visit the senior man today.

I didn't go near the apparatus. Given the condition of the building and grounds, it would break my heart to see the trucks ignored, too. Besides, if I'm nowhere near them I can't be blamed for anything that might happen to them.

"Damn, those guys are lazy," he told me. Who did he think was doing all the work around there?

I hope they're happy with what they've got left, because I'm starting to think they'd have been better off with just me than the two of them, even though I know a certain number of warm bodies is needed.

Be safe, everyone. I need some time off.


I want to become a firefighter — 05/16/05

Hi! I'm 15 years old... I'm from Bulgaria and I don't speak English very well. I want to become a firefighter, but I don't know how to start! Can you help me?


RE: Pregnancy — 05/16/05


I had my first child 18 months ago. I announced my pregnancy when I was 16 weeks. I was immediately taken off the truck and told to go home until I was fit for duty again. Wanna know the ironic thing? I had a desk job! I was assigned to the Station Commander's Office at the time, and while I did respond to calls, the majority of my job was ordering uniforms and supplies, scheduling equipment maintenance, rental inspections and pub-eds. They had reassigned the past two pregnant firefighters to similar positions while they were pregnant, as well as every police officer who had ever been pregnant (we're a public safety department).

So I fought it and "won" a light duty position in administration. I feel like I was punished for deciding to start a family!

Do injured firefighters on your department get reassigned to a light duty position? If so, they have to reassign you too. Do you have the option of having a STD insurance policy? I am going to set one up before my next pregnancy, just in case.

Good luck!


RE: Harassment from fellow firefighters -- Help, please — 05/15/05


I am so sad to hear that you have quit. It really angers me to hear that "they" have won again. You most definitely have a way to get things straightened out. Yes, your union will go after other union members in your behalf. I would highly recomend that you look in your local phone book for a good harassment attorney that only gets paid if he or she wins your case.

I was threatened repeatedly by co-workers when I started, both physically and mentally. I was backed into walls and told that they could take me out and no one would know, I was held down in my bunk (in the common bunkroom) by "my" crew and threatened that if I ever told anyone what they did that they would "get" me. I have had my gear set up to fail when used, and have been sent into unsafe situations and suffered injuries. I had an M-80 set up in our cast iron stove top, so that when I turned it on it would go off. I suffered permanent hearing loss from that little prank.

Being young and a single mom with a way to finally make ends meet, I didn't see a way out of the constant harassment that I lived with at the fire station. Finally I was being terrorized again by one of the guys; he had me up against a wall in private and was once again threatening me, I guess I just snapped. I grabbed him by the neck and slammed him against the opposite wall and told him that if he ever touched me again, I would sneak over to his bunk at night while he was sleeping and beat him with a baseball bat. I must have convinced him that day, because he never touched me again, and the other guys laid off also.

This was 16 years ago and I know that most departments have changed dramatically, but yours seem to be the throwback. There are so many laws to protect you now, don't let them chase you away.

What states are you talking about? I am in California. I spoke to my chief about making a new hiring list and really recruiting women. Feel free to email me and maybe I can help you: dodge60(at)

If it is truly your "life's work," than it is just that, and you will not be able to let it go. I love my job and could never see myself doing anything else. I find myself thinking while on a call or just tinkering with the engine, "I can't believe that I get paid for this!" Please don't give up; it makes what I had to go thru meaningless. We all have to fight for the things that we love.


Moving — 05/12/05

Hello! This is my first time writing to the message board. I have been a member of WFS for a number of years and a FF/PM for 7 years. I am on a fire department and am the only full-time female. I get along with everyone, and I think that is the problem. In the last 5 months, I have been shift-traded and switched to different stations 3 times. My captain's excuse is, "You get along with everyone. This guy can't move, because of this or that..." Yet, I am the senior blue shirt, and I am sick of moving. I hate to complain, but I feel sometimes that because I am "the girl" and the one who never causes problems, I get (excuse my language) SCREWED! Any advice? I am sick of moving because of personality issues. Thanks, girls... I just need to hear from other females in the fire service.


Re: Pregnancy — 05/12/05

It has been interesting going through the posts concerning pregnancy. My husband and I have decided to start a family. In anticipation of that, I asked my superiors what they would do in the event that I become pregnant. They told me that once they are notified and feel that I can't perform full duty that they will make me take leave, either using my sick leave or vacation days until I can return to full duty. I was totally blown away by this. I didn't think that they could penalize me for becoming pregnant. Anyone have any thoughts or suggestions to help me out? Any info would be greatly appreciated!


Do I have a chance? — 05/10/05

Hi. I am almost 19 years old and am trying to figure out what to do with my life. I have always had a passion for helping people, and have wanted to be a firefighter for years now. However, I had put it in the back of my head because I wasn't sure if I even had a chance. Just wondering if anybody has any advice and can give me ideas on where to start.


RE: Harassment from fellow firefighters -- Help, please — 05/10/05


It's over. I've quit. I'm sick over this -- it was my life's work.

Funny thing, when one of the firefighters involved is the son of the chief, very bad things can happen to me and the police don't want to know about it.

We're unionized, but will the union help me with a lawyer to go after another union member? Especially when this member has been undermining me for a while now, and I'm just now finding out that my reputation is not what I expected it to be?

They've tampered with my gear, my apparatus, and my personal vehicle. I figure I can be alive and a coward, or proud and dead.

I'm not trying again anywhere else, even though I'm certified in two states. I'm too old to go through the red helmet BS again.

I was damn good at what I did. The loss is not mine alone -- my community is losing, too.


RE: Female Firefighters — 05/10/05

I think so based solely on the fact we spend more time (24 hours at a time) with them. I really believe it depends on your department and how they handle it. I have been a POC (paid on call/volunteer) and am a full-time firefighter/paramedic. I have been lucky and not experienced much harassment from the guys... rather the dinosaur mentality of the senior staff. Hope this helped. You can e-mail if you need more info.


Mentally fit for duty evals — 05/10/05

Hi. I am a California Bay area firefighter who has been off for 3 months and am now on light duty. My department was helping me by letting me take time off, but when I returned, they said it wasn't enough, and now I've been deemed unfit for duty. Basically, I'm too emotional for people's comfort level although I have nothing in my file about the inability to do my job. I've avoided taking legal action believing it would all while not believing this is happening. I don't feel my union has been of much help. Has anyone had similar experiences? Please help.


RE: Harassment from fellow firefighters -- Help, please. — 05/10/05

Hi Marley,

Believe me when I say you are not alone. Marlene's response to your message has good advice in it. Please don't quit. Remember all of the good you do for the people who depend on you when you respond to their emergencies.

You have earned the right to be a firefighter. Don't let others take that away from you. Don't make yourself pay for the shortcomings and discriminatory behavior of others.

Regardless of what course of action you choose, or how you choose to report your concerns, document everything well. Find someone you can trust and confide in so you can take care of your own emotional well being. I would recommend someone outside of the fire service. There are so many politics in the fire service that loyalty and trust are often discarded if they become inconvenient to adhere to.

If you decide to sue, ask yourself this question first. After the lawsuit is over, what do you want to do with the rest of your life? Where does your passion lie? There is no one universal right answer. You have to do what is right for you. Try to remember the reasons you became a firefighter to begin with. Know it is a difficult road but also that you make a difference to someone every day.

Hang in there.


RE: I want it NOW! — 05/05/05

Heather, and also Beth,

Be sure you understand the entire job, not just the glamorous parts. The worst for me, aside from a problem that appeared yesterday, is the waiting. Even though I now work in an area where I see more fire in a week than I ever saw as a volunteer, I still have days, weeks, and sometimes months of waiting. In spite of all the waiting, I have to be ready at a moment's notice, all the time. It doesn't sound like a big deal, but after a while it gets to be tough.

You also have to know that there will be people who will not want you in the job, no matter how good you are at it, because you are female. Build up a good network of allies, and always always always watch your back. In an office job, an enemy may make your job more difficult or may even get you fired. In this job an enemy can get you killed and make it look like an accident.

Maintain all-around physical fitness. Don't just focus on strength training. Core conditioning is fantastic and will give you strength you'd never get from simple bench presses. Run, lift, do Pilates, have ankle and wrist weights or a weight vest on while you work out or do everyday activities. A diver's weight belt was the best investment I ever made.

Work your mind out as well. Study fire science and human behavior. Get the books you'll need in the academy and study and understand them before you get there. Find a sympathetic firefighter who will mentor you and learn everything you can from them.

Do something every day that scares you. Learn about your fear and understand it, and control it. And don't be afraid to be afraid; I believe that fear is my mind telling me I'm about to do something stupid. Pay attention to what your body and your mind are telling you.

Most of all, if the people you care about are not supportive (beyond the normal concern for your safety), dump them and find new people. You will need support while you're off duty to get through the stuff that happens on duty.


RE: Harassment from fellow firefighters -- Help, please. — 05/05/05

Hi Marley;

It's like this, you have three choices. You back down and just try to get along untill they get tired of playing games with you. You fight back and document every incident no matter how small, or you go out right now and get the best harassment lawyer that you can find and retire.

I have been a full-time profesional firefighter for almost 17 years and had I known that the crap would never end, I definitely would not have done #1, and would have opted for a nice combination of #2 and #3.

If you didn't notice, quitting is not an option. This is not up for discussion. If you go out, they force you out and that is where the lawyer comes in. If you have a union, you might get in touch with one of their lawyers. I am going through more crap right now. Read my message on the message board. If you want to talk more, feel free to email me direct.

Good Luck,

RE: I want it NOW! — 05/05/05

I think you should take that 2-year EMS degree program. When they do the hiring process, sometimes it helps to have a little more education than others, and it will help when you get promoted. I think that your drive is good, but don't rush it: you're only 16. Finish high school first.


RE: Female firefighter about to deliver — 05/04/05

That is right, Kelly; I am a single parent with no additional income.


RE: Female firefighter about to deliver — 05/03/05

Your department has no maternity leave policy? Most doctors, and I polled ten, won't release you to work for at least six weeks. Are you a single parent with no additional income? If you're married and this is your first baby, stay home with him/her. Also try a doctor's note after you deliver that says you can't work and you should be paid sick leave. That's what our shift females do.


California girl looking for some pointers — 05/03/05

Hey all,

My name is Beth and I live in San Jose, CA. I am a high school senior soon to graduate. I am planning on becoming a firefighter/paramedic. This has been a dream of mine ever since I was a little girl. My father was a firefighter so I have grown up hearing his stories. I am planning on going to community college to get my A.S. degree in fire science as well as become a fully licenced paramedic. I have been a member of our local explorer post, but had to drop out because of circumstances but will be starting up again when the next rotation starts. I am 5'2" and weigh about 140. I was just wondering if any of you ladies had any advice for me on anything. I would particularly appreciate information about workouts that have worked for you in building upper body strength. Thank you very much!!


RE: Being short and throwing a ladder — 05/03/05

I'm 5'6" and I use my legs (I bend my knees and then explode upward) as well as my arms to get enough momentum when planting the 24' ladder. This way I don't have to rely solely on upper body strength. Make sure you pull down on the top beam to keep the base of the ladder from skidding. Always remember to be careful of back injuries, but don't be afraid to let your whole body work for you (including momentum) instead of just your arms and shoulders.

Also, it is easier to plant the base of the ladder in grass or soft dirt. It may help you to practice on a surface such as these until you get your technique down. Once you have mastered the throw, work on raising the fly section per your departments standard. I would start by raising the fly section only a couple of rungs, lock the dawgs and then spend a little time getting a feel for the ladder and confidence with it. Then next time raise it a little higher and do the same thing. You will have it mastered in no time!!

Remember, you are the boss and you control the ladder -- the ladder does not control you. Best of luck to you. Hope this helped!


I want it NOW! — 05/03/05

I'm 16 years old and never thought about firefighting until about a month ago. My mom started dating a man who is a FireMedic. Ever since the idea of being a firefighter entered my head, I've been going crazy, renting all the firefighter movies, looking at all the websites, going to the station, getting my own tour of the engine. A FIREFIGHTER is what I want to be soo bad! I've already checked and there isn't an Explorer program around here. Any suggestions? I was going to get a 2 year degree in EMS because I know alot of fire stations look for that. HELP!


The L Word — 05/03/05

On the May 1, 2005 show of the L Word there was a Los Angelos County Fire Fighter riding with the Dykes on Bikes. Her name is Chris. Does anyone know how to get a hold of her? I am actually suprised that we weren't notified that she was going to be on the episode.


Harassment from fellow firefighters -- Help, please. — 05/03/05

I work with two firefighters, a senior man, and a supervisor occasionally shows up.

The senior guy enjoys working with me and believes I do a good job. The other two are trying to destroy me.

They're fabricating stories about me, making anonymous accusations, sabotaging my equipment, and getting away with it. After a long group meeting today where my "attitude" was identified as the primary problem, I nearly quit.

Advice, please, soon, before I *do* quit. I love this job and will never find anything else like it.


Re: Female firefighter about to deliver — 04/29/05

It's me again, Jessi, with things I forgot to add. I forgot to add that if anyone knew of any ways to receive additional income while I'm out on maternity leave? My salary is at 41 k. That's why I'm having a difficult time with this.


Female firefighter about to deliver — 04/28/05

I am 36 weeks pregnant. I do not have enough leave to go my full six weeks. (I would have if they didn't put me on day work). Every doctor's appointment is one hour of annual leave away from my baby. Anything important that I have to do is a subtraction from my leave bank. So WHAT DO I DO IN A CASE LIKE THIS?


Re: Class A dress uniform issue — 04/27/05

In response to Tina's post on this issue, I agree with you 100% that women are not fully accepted in the fire service until we are no longer required to sacrifice our integrity to conform to male norms.

And I disagree with you 100% that wanting to wear pants for our Class A uniform is necessarily an example of adapting, or a sign that we "just want to be one of the guys."

Some women are not comfortable in skirts. Never have been, never will be. Some women, like me, find skirts objectionable on political (feminist) grounds. I respect these viewpoints, and would never accuse anyone of just trying to fit in and be "one of the guys" because she prefers a uniform with pants. She may just be trying to be true to herself, just as you are doing when you put on your skirt.

There is room for all of us in the fire service, and the better we can understand each other and not jump to conclusions or make accusations, the more comfortable we can all be here.

Old Fire Gal

RE: Female Firefighters — 04/27/05

I really can't see how there could be more problems in volunteer departments. I believe that actually living with males that you are not related to definitely has its own set of problems. I have been on both sides.


RE: Being short and throwing a ladder — 04/26/05

I too am about 5 feet 2 inches tall. I am huge (not really... that's just what I tell myself when I have to put up the 24). I am about 125 lbs., and you should see me throw the 24!

I am proud to have just finished my fifth year as a firefighter in a department where the ability to place a 24 is mandatory. Don't be afraid of it. You can do it! How do I get more information to you? Sheesh, if you could come to my station I could teach you. Where are you? Good luck! Maybe the message board managers can hook us up.


Really need some advice!!! — 04/26/05

I have been with a military fire department for almost 17 years. For 12 years our fire station was the "old boys" layout. Everyone bunked in the same room and had to share one small bathroom.

Four years ago, we moved into a facility that has female quarters. Since the day I moved my stuff into the room, the "old boys" have been trying to take it from me. (Very long story.) Twice while I was off duty the "guys" moved all of my stuff out and took over the room. I got help from higher-ups and got it back

Over and over, they have attempted to run me out of the room and have recently gone to our "milk toast" chief and convinced him that there should not be female quarters at all and he has agreed with them. I was told that I am to pack and lock up all of my personal belongings and put another bed in there for one of the male firefighters to use.

There have been three other female firefighters that have left my department due to harassing. I am a single mom and now that my kids are grown, I am vested in this department and can retire in less than five years. I have been fighting this crap for my whole career and am completely fed up.

Can anyone out there help me get the information on the laws, regs or any other information that requires a department to provide separate female quarters/restrooms? Please get back to me ASAP. I go back on duty Thursday. I know that the chief and I are going to have it out.

You can email me direct at (not the dodgehottie).


Female Firefighters — 04/26/05

Hi all... I am doing a report about female firefighters. I am also a volunteer firefighter for a department in Pennsylvania. My question is, are there more problems with female firefighters in paid outfits then in volunteer ones?


RE: Class A dress uniform issue — 04/26/05

It's bad when you read how women continue to adapt to the ways of our male co-workers. The bottom line is that you don't have to lose your identity to be part of a team. Upon my promotion, I requested that a skirt be added to my uniform appearal. At any time, I have a choice to wear that uniform. If we as women continue to adapt to the environment of our career, changes for women firefighters will never happen. This includes the way females are viewed and related to during the working hours. So I guess you enjoy being one of the guys?


RE: Advice to new female in the service — 04/25/05

I want to thank you for the words of wisdom on this subject. It is the end part that we all need to engrave in ourselves, sometimes words from someone else answer more than our own questions. It is a tough thing, to be working in a typical man's world, but we each have a reason for wanting to be a part of it.


RE: Women in the Line of Fire — 04/25/05
First of all, "hottie," alot of us are the only women in our stations. So what? Do you do your job? Are you there to save lives and property, to make a difference any way you can? Think about these things before you try to commit to full time, where there is no place for worrying about being the only woman.


QA/QI Programs — 04/25/05

I am excited to see this web site and be part of this sisterhood. I work for a combination career/volunteer fire & EMS department with 1000 members. I am a supervisor recently transferred out of Operations to Training to be in charge of Quality Assurance & Improvement. We currently have no program so I am starting from the beginning. I am interested in gathering information from similar departments' QA programs. Any information you feel may assist me would be greatly appreciated. If I can answer any questions, please feel free to contact me as well. Take care and stay strong out there!


RE: Question about family life — 04/25/05


I can tell you my experience with the shift work. I am a battalion chief and recently requested a transfer out of Operations because of the schedule. I am a single mom. I have a wonderful 3-year-old son who I had to be home at night for, so I made the request to go to the Training division. If you have a partner on a "normal" work schedule it wouldn't be a bad schedule at all. I loved it, but I have to be a mom first. It's not an easy decision, and for women its more difficult as mothers and firefighters, but we are strong and will make the right choice. Good luck and let me know how you make out!


Promotional Process — 04/25/05

I work for a medium size career department (107). We are currently looking into changing our promotional process. Any info from other departments would be greatly appreciated. Specifically, I am looking into if other departments use seniority points and if so, what is the percentage.

Thanks muchly,

RE: Being short and throwing a ladder — 04/24/05

Hi there... I'm not sure what "throwing a ladder" means, but I'm 5'4" and although ladder work is a bit harder, I have managed how to do all the drills. Let me know what "throwing a ladder" means, and I could hopefully have a sugggestion for you.


Help — 04/24/05

I need some information about the training and classes you must go through in order to become a firefighter. My uncle, cousins and husband are all volunteer firefighters and have provided me with some information. I joined our fire department as an auxiliary member. Any info. would be greatly appreciated.


Australian Female Firefighters — 04/21/05

I work with volunteer fire brigades in Victoria, Australia, and am about to hold a Women's Leadership program for 15 volunteers in the area (this covers 173 fire brigades). The percentage of women in the leadership positions in our area is quite small and amounts to only 1.7%. The number of women in the fire service in the State of Victoria amounts to almost 17%.

We plan to follow up the weekend with the establishment of a mentoring network, much like this one, where they will have access to share their experiences and concerns. If anyone has any words of encouragement or feedback on this site it would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance for any replies to all you fantastic women of the USA!!

Raelene Murray
Victoria, Australia

RE: Maternity work pants — 04/20/05


When I was pregnant 2 1/2 years ago, I was able to get a couple pairs of navy blue "work" looking pants from J.C. Penney. They also came in black and khaki. I believe they were about $27 at the time. They were comfortable. I was lucky enough that my Chief had the fire district pick up the tab. I worked up until 27 weeks.

Good luck!

Laurie Taylor
St. Louis County, MO

RE: Pregnancy — 04/20/05

Dear Smitty,

Our stories sound so similar! When I was pregnant 2-1/2 years ago, our department did not have a light duty policy either. I worked up until 27 weeks of pregnancy and went off and burned through all my sick and vacation time.

When my daughter was three days old, she was diagnosed with a ventricular septal defect (hole between the ventricles). You could have knocked me over. She looked so healthy. It wasn't until after I came back to work that I began to do research into revising our maternity policy. During my research, I found that there was a study that indicated a higher incidence of VSD in children born to MALE firefighters. The study was controversial, but alarming nonetheless.

I also discovered that the IAFF Human Relations Committee clearly recommends that pregnant firefighters be allowed to utilize alternate duty without loss of pay or benefits. As a member of a strong union shop, I was able to use that as a guideline for revising the policy. I am proud to say that it was signed into our contract!

While I believe that women should fight for their right to work while they are pregnant if they choose, I believe just as strongly that we should fight for the right to a safer working environment while pregnant.This benefits us, our babies, and the other men and women we work shoulder to shoulder with. In short, there is no "safe" time in a pregnancy to fight fire, for your baby. I recommend that you recontact your union president and the two of you review the IAFF HR policy regarding pregnancy.

I do not believe there are any laws requiring your employer to give you light duty, but if light duty is provided for other non-duty-related illnesses or injuries, it should be provided for you.

Take care, and stay safe. Oh, yeah, and CONGRATULATIONS!


RE: Pregnancy — 04/20/05

I am in the same situation you are in. I am the only female firefighter/medic in a small career/volunteer dept. As of yesterday, I was pulled off the truck and placed on light duty by my doc. I'm only 13 weeks pregnant and had hoped to stay out longer. Initially my doc said that it would be my decision when to stop firefighting and finally when to come off the ambulance, but I had some bleeding issues and had to stop earlier.

We also have no pregnancy clause, and being so small we don't have our own training division that I could move to. I do know that you cannot be forced onto light duty, but also if you put yourself on light duty without a doctor's note, thay are not required to give you desk work. FMLA law says that they have to give you 12 weeks unpaid maternity leave without jeopardizing your job.

My one saving grace is that I was a 911 dispatcher before I moved out into the field and I may be able to go into dispatch. But I'm not sure how our chief will handle it. I lost a baby to an ectopic pregnancy 6 months ago and had to have surgery which included removing one of my fallopian tubes, and he tried to refuse me light duty until I called in a union lawyer. At that, I still lost 4 weeks pay fighting with him.

All I can say is do your research, keep your union involved, and be prepared for a fight. My doctor was very supportive at first about me staying in the field as long as I could until I had problems. You might consider sticking to exterior fire operations and overhaul after a while, and then maybe moving to the ambulance if you can. Your biggest battle healthwise is going to be the sheer exhaustion that comes in the first trimester. I definitely wasn't prepared for that.

Take care and let me know how it goes. I meet with my chief tomorrow, so we'll see what happens.


RE: Krista and everyone/EO — 04/19/05

First, I want to thank you all for the input! I think our department's women, and a lot of the men, are getting together to pool info, hoping to make a difference in this ridiculous issue. I had wondered about the tax issue, too, Krista, and will report back on what I find out. We are a tax-based district contracted by the county to provide fire supression, so there is still hope. The problem with EEOC lies with how an employee is defined. It is my interpretation that EEOC requires 25 employees with a non-profit organization to involve itself, but the text is ambiguous. Like I said, still looking, still hoping. I really miss the time when I was oblivious to this stuff, but now I guess I can do something about it!


Being short and throwing a ladder — 04/19/05

I was training with my local fire department when my training ended because I couldn't throw our 24-foot extension ladder. I was recently accepted into the Paid Call/ volunteer academy, and we are back on ladders. I'm 5' 2", and my height seems to be my biggest problem. I was wondering if any one had suggestions, because I am the shortest one in the department and I dont want to give my turnouts back for a second time.

Take care and thank you!

Advice to new female in the service — 04/18/05

First of all, get rid of the "Dodge hottie" thing. Most of us really hate that. If you're hot you're hot, don't advertise. We all know some hottie, cutie or fireflirt that uses her sexuality to get what she wants. It always blows up in your face. If you are going to join the ranks of female firefighters you may as well know right now. Keep your personal life out of the station at all times and never let them see you cry. You can never be a man, don't pretend to be, don't compete with them. Know your own strengths and weaknesses, so they don't have to point them out to you. Don't feel the need to prove anything or be as tough as men, this gets people hurt. And most of all remember, you can be a firefighter and do a man's job, but you can also be a lady. It is hard enough to exceed in this profession, give yourself a head start.

One of Sally's sisters

RE: Class A dress uniform issue — 04/18/05

I say that since you're the only female, it should be up to you to dictate the Class A for women. In my dept (where I was the only woman for nearly 2 years), we have a choice between pants and a skirt. Push the issue, because you can and should. Good luck, sister!


Question about family life — 04/18/05

I am not a firefighter; I've been at home with my daughter for the past two years. Before my daughter was born, I was a police officer and am now considering a career change(FF/medic). I have been an EMT for 8 years and am going for my paramedic cert.

I live in a metro region and most of the fire depts here work a 24hr on 48 hr off schedule. To those of you who are already firefighters, I was curious as to how your family life is with that schedule. I see that alot of you are moms and just curious what your kids think. Any insight on it would be great! Thanks alot!


Pregnancy — 04/18/05

I am 28 years old and have been a fulltime firefighter for 4 years. I just found out that I am 9 weeks pregnant. I go this week to see the ob/gyn.

My department does not have a light duty in our contract due to the fact the chief didn't want it. We do not have a pregnancy clause either. I spoke with my union president and he states I can take a leave of absence or work while I can and then go out on sick time. We rotate through the pump and ambulance.

I can't afford to not work. Will this put my baby in jeopardy since we don't have light duty? Is there any law that states we have to have that in our contract or a pregnancy clause? I am clueless and scared as this is my first pregnancy. I am the first female in the department so I am definitely breaking some barriers here.

Thank you for all your help.


Women in The Line of Fire — 04/13/05

Hey. My name is Kristy. I just joined the Avoca Volunteer Fire Dept. and am thinking about doing it for a life career full time. Any opinions on the good versus bad with women firefighters? Keep in mind I am the only woman at my dept. with fifteen guys. Thanks!!! IF you want to talk send me an email at , and put "Fire" in the subject line.

Thanks! Keep on working hard!

RE: EO — 04/12/05

Does the community you serve have a contract with your department? If that is so, tax dollars may pay for your services. If that is the case, the community leaders may be able to help you. I don't know the laws in your state but if tax dollars are being used, they probably can't go towards an organization that ignores EEOC guidelines. They may not be held to EEOC rules but they may be held to similar standards if tax money is used. It's worth a try.


RE: EO — 04/12/05


I am currently writing a Thesis in support of the need for more Female fire officers and specifically chiefs. I would like to talk to you if possible to gather some info. in support of the thesis proposal.


RE: Scared about starting fire school — 04/11/05

You can do it if you make up your mind to do so! Start training now, don't wait for fire school to start! Find a training partner to push you. Is your husband supportive? Stay away from those negative people who say you can't make it! I did it at age 39, and I'm a mother of five!


RE: EO — 04/11/05


This sounds alot like my fire department. I was passed up for promation also. Not only have I been discriminated against, but my fellow female firefighters and officers as well. Of course the females that play up to the chief's male ego are treated like queens. They don't have to perform their jobs or get dirty. One spends her day on the computer playing games, and if anybody dares to say anything she runs and whines to the chief. He doesn't realize what she says about him behind his back. This behavior of his makes him popular with some of the men, but most of them have no respect for him.

Our governing body is so corrupt that they don't care what is going on. I have been advised to sue but can't bring myself to do it. However I have been reconsidering because it gets worse every day and is no longer just me but my sisters also. EEOC has told me that I have no protection under their guidelines.


RE: Class A dress uniform issue — 04/11/05

I have been issued a skirt for my class A despite my request for pants. I am not sure about others, but I am not too comfortable in a skirt. I prefer pants and wanted the preference, but since I am the only female, that was not an option.


Firefighting Questions — 04/11/05

I have a test to study for, I took it two times already and failed. Can you help me?


RE: Pregnancy — 04/10/05

I agree that women should go on modified duty as soon as they find out they are pregnant. I just found out I was pregnant and as much as I love being on the Rescue I knew that if I didn't I would be jeopardizing my baby. If you don't think that it is bad for the fetus do your research. Being around the diesel from the trucks alone can cause you to lose your baby. It is not worth it.


RE: Pregnancy — 04/10/05

I don't care what your doctors say, being pregnant while riding the trucks is inappropriate. There are so many possible complications linked to firefighting and pregnancy. Did you know that even the diesel from the trucks backing in and out of the hall can cause miscariages? Not to mention the toxic atmospheres of fires and the high incidence of apparatus accidents. Do your research before you risk the life of your unborn child. Staying on the trucks is simply selfish!


EO — 04/08/05

Our department is suffering from severe Good Old Boys disease. Our senior captain was passed up for promotion for a guy that doesn't even have a high school diploma, the captain is FLSE, FFII, RT-VMR, the list goes on, but the executive officer said "a woman couldn't do the job". Then they opened two positions, but only told select men about it, despite two women expressing general interest (the jobs were never posted). Both of the women are considerably more qualified and experienced than the men are. We contacted EEOC, but they said since we are a non-profit, they can't help us. PLEASE, does anyone know of precedent, federal or North Carolina, that could help us? This is getting more than ridiculous. The new chief has robbed all the female officers of any authority and most responsibility and encourages disrespect to us.


RE: Class A dress uniform issue — 04/08/05

I prefer a skirt as well with my class A. I have been a firefighter for 15 years, career for the last 10. I hear the position that we need to do the same job, but I don't understand the opposition to a skirt based on the feminine touch. I think it is about time there was more of a feminine touch in many aspects of firefighting, especially in the house.


RE: Pregnancy — 04/07/05

Firemam Sam here,

Since I first wrote my letter, I have been pregnant twice. I miscarried the first time and because of my age (I'm 36) and the risk factors we (as f/f's ) face, my doctor, husband and I all decided it would be best for me to go to light duty in the interest of my health and that of my baby. The understanding I have is that the first trimester is crucial as far as good health because that is when the heart, brain and nervous systems are developing. Exposure to chemicals and high temps are (potentially) detrimental to the developing fetus. Ultimately it was my choice and as much as I miss being on the engine and can't wait to get back, no one can judge me as less of a f/f for protecting my baby's health. All I want is a healthy baby, and this time off seems like a small sacrifice for a lifetime of good health in my opinion.

I know all of you who decided otherwise put a lot of thought into your decision to stay on line, and I have no problem with that. Personally, I just didn't want to face another miscarriage and/or the guilt I felt when I lost the first baby.

Fortunately, I'm with a very understanding and supportive departmen,t and my time off hasn't felt wasted. I've remained very involved with the crews and feel more connected to many of them now that I see them with more regularity. Light duty was offered to me at the time I informed my BC I was pregnant. He already knew about the miscarriage and he knew how I felt about staying on line at that point. In all this is a very personal, difficult and individual choice for each of us and I wish the best for all women f/f's who have decided to try motherhood.

Now if I can just figure out 24-hour day care for when my husband is out of town, I'll feel much better.

Thanks to all of you for your input and I love hearing your individual stories.


RE: Pregnancy — 04/07/05

I wanted to respond to K8's post from 4/6, regarding employer liability and fetal protection.

I am not a lawyer and can not give legal advice, but it is pretty clear from several Supreme Court's decisions (particularly Johnson Controls) that decisions about workplace hazards and childbearing are the employee's to make, not the employer's. It may well be that the fire department in this case is trying to protect itself. But if it does so by saying that a pregnant woman can not work on the line, or that she has to come off the line at an arbitrary point in her pregnancy, or even that she must notify the department of her pregnancy, then I would bet it's on shaky legal ground.

I do agree that the wise decision for a firefighter is to come off the line when she gets pregnant, as long as she doesn't suffer from it financially or in terms of her career. The appropriate way for fire departments to see that this happens -- and thus to "protect themselves" -- is to put workable policies in place, and provide education about the reproductive risks of firefighting (to men as well as women), so potential parents can make informed and unconstrained decisions.

Old Fire Gal

RE: Scared about starting fire school — 04/07/05

If you want to make it through fire school, never say "I can't." If you can do that, you will be successful. When given a task, just set about figuring out "how" to get it done and not "if" you can get it done. Good luck!


RE: Class A dress uniform issue — 04/07/05

High five sister, I'm right there with you.


RE: Dare to Dream — 04/07/05

I'm seventeen years old (going on 18 in a couple weeks), and I was in your same position a couple years back. I've been taking fire tech classes at a local community college that offers them for a year and a half now. I'm now a fire cadet, and I'm getting ready to go into fire academy in September. It's so cool to start this young. You get a lot of respect from everyone because you know what you want to do. Start now, do everything you can that might benefit you in the fire service later, and you'll be very confident when you get out of high school and already have potential job opportunities. If you have community colleges in your area, see if they offer fire tech classes, because high school students are allowed to enroll in them. Good Luck :)


RE: Dare to Dream — 04/07/05

Check into getting some medical training (first responder or EMT). Most fire services these days require you to have some medical training, and you may be able to gain emergency response experience with a medical unit sooner than as a fire fighter.

As has been suggested, look for an Explorer program. If there is none in your area, see if you can still volunteer with stuff around the fire hall or with prevention activities. We don't have Explorers, but let people do most training before they are 18. Once they are 18, they can respond to fire calls.


RE: Pregnancy — 04/06/05

I truly feel your pain. I have been a firefighter for 5 years and at this time am considering having another child. I have just recently applied for a position for state firefighter and strongly want to further my career in the fire service. I feel torn between becoming pregnant and continuing to resond to fire calls. I would continue to respond (as long as I have the Dr. OK) and I feel that my current chief of the department would support that, maybe put me on "light duty" but that is ok. What I am trying to say is that I truly feel that I understand or can identify with your current situation. I'm assuming that you have been told that you have to take a leave of absence? Not sure if it is town/city adminstration that makes them feel that you may be a liability? I am wondering if you have been asked to take a leave of absence or if you have been asked to leave the department? At any rate I feel that any woman in the fire service can recognize any risk and is able to make an informed decision based on her duties. This is something that should be discussed with your chief.


RE: Scared about starting fire school — 04/06/05

You can do it! If this is what you really want to do, trust me. I became a firefigher at 31. Now 37 and get just as nervous as anyone else in some of the serious fires. Most of the guys I work with have just as many fears as I do the only show it differently. I was not scared about going to the fire academy... that is easy. It is all structured and controlled. Just remember everything you will learn in class will be your foundation to build your firefighting skills. You are there to learn, not perform!


RE: Dare to Dream — 04/06/05

It is not a bad thing to start early and have your goal set at 15. I am 37 and when I was your age women were not accepted into the fire service around here (trust me I tried). If you are studying now, continue! You will become a strong asset to any department that you join. Don't ever get bogged down by someone telling you that you cant do it simply because you are female and young. Female firefighers have certain strengths that some of my co-firefighters cannot hold up to. I am small 5'1" 112lb. I can fit in very small spaces. I also crawl lower on the floor and don't feel as much heat at times. As most women do I have more lower body strength then most of the men that I work with. This is a great benefit. Learn your strengths, physical ablilty and mental capacity to handle all situations. Doing this now is not a bad thing.


RE: Dare to Dream — 04/06/05

Check to see if there are any Explorer groups in your area. They are associated with the Scouts. We hire quite a few people that have been through the Explorer program.

Good luck!

RE: Pregnancy — 04/06/05

OK... lets play devil's advocate here. If, during your pregnancy, you are exposed to a chemical that is a known substance to increase the chance of birth defects in pregnant woman, and the child is indeed born with a birth defect that COULD be due to the exposure, is there a chance the Department may be vulnerable to be liable? Are you sure that the department is discriminating against you or are they trying to protect the fetus and themselves? Could this be a reaction from Department heads that are starting to see cancer disabilities from exposures? I understand that OB's are clearing for duty, but do the truely understand ALL what we could possibly be exposed to?


Dare to Dream — 04/05/05

I am a 15 year old girl who dreams of becoming what every junior fire fighter dreams of doing once they're old enough. What is that? To be a certified fire fighter.

I have some questions. What can I do at my age so young, that can help me be prepared for this career? Will reading the Essentials of Fire Fighting work? Is it a bad thing to start so early? Cause everyone is telling me why I'm starting so early, but they don't understand how badly I want this job.

k thanks
bye bye now

Pregnancy — 04/05/05

For all of you fighting for your rights to work while pregnant: I am currently 14 weeks along, and my obstetrician cleared me for duty. My department has no policies or guidelines in place, despite me to be the second woman in the department to become pregnant. I am currently fighting their decision. I have the EEOC involved, this is considered sexual discrimination. Don't let these men make you feel they have the right. This is a personal decision to be made by you, your significant other, and your obstetrician. If any one has had a similar experiance, or is fighting to stay on the truck, reply. I would love the support and offer any help I can.


Re: Maternity Work Pants — 04/05/05

I am currently fighting to stay on our trucks. The 1978 amendment to the Civil Rights Act protects us from discrimination. My obstetrician cleared me for duty, but the department is questioning his judgment. I am glad to hear of other women who continued to work. I will continue to fight for my rights! It is a sign of encouragement!!!

Disabled Firefighters — 04/05/05

Can anyone tell me what the statistics are of men being injured to women being injured in the line of duty?

RE: Scared about starting fire school — 04/05/05

I was also scared about going to Fire College. I was 29 and had been out of school since I was 16. It doesn't matter what everyone around you says. Do you know you can do it? Do you have the drive, motivation, the heart to stick it out through the training? Think of it this way: do you want to be a firefighter? If so, how badly do you want it?

An instructor of mine said these words to me while going through the interview process just to get into the Fire College. I told him that I would see him at the end of August to start school.

I am not the best runner, never have been. We ran 3 days a week first thing in the morning. Pushups, situps, body drags and then off to class. I had to run twice a day, 7 days a week, just to keep up with everyone. Because I was out of school so long I had to study hours a day. I would go to the college on weekends to do extra work and ensure that I knew everything I need to know and how it worked. We would work long days and at night.

At the end of 9 months of what I thought was torture in the true sense, I graduated. And in less then 2 weeks I got hired, and 5 years later I can look back and say wow....I can believe I did that.

Cardio will help, weight training... eat well get as much sleep as you can. If you are having bad days, find a way to get rid of the stress. Listen lots, learn everything, and in the end your day will come.


RE: I did it! — 04/05/05

Welcome to the Sisterhood. Enjoy your new career!


RE: Keeping Cool — 04/05/05

I use Under Armour and I like it alot and think it works well.


RE: Class A dress uniform issue — 04/05/05

When I started in the fire service 15 years ago, I was one of the first three females in my department. I requested a skirt for my class A uniform. For me, it made a statement. I may work side by side with the guys, but I'm a female doing the job of firefighter. Silly as it may seem to some, wearing my class A skirt reminds me of who I am doing the job I love. I "wear" that distinction proudly.


RE: A girl with a dream — 04/05/05


If you have your heart set on becoming a fire fighter, that is half the challenge right there. As long as you have the heart and the drive to do it, you will be a great fire fighter someday. I was like you and always wanted to be a fire fighter, so stick with it, because it's possible, and never let anyone tell you any different.


RE: Scared about starting fire school — 04/05/05

As long as you have the heart, you can do it. It's not easy, but you'll get through it and when it's done, you'll be sad. I miss everyone from my certification class, and I actually keep in touch with a lot of them because we're family, we trained together for 3 months and all looked out for each other. Never give up, and expect to do the same things that males do: they don't make it easier because you're a female and they shouldn't, (you go into the same fires males do and the same situations.) Have faith in yourself and you'll get through it!!! If you have any other questions let me know.


RE: Class A dress uniform issue — 04/05/05

I disagree with wearing a skirt as an option of a class A uniform. I'm here to do a job, and to do it well I want to be treated with the same respect as my brothers. A skirt is impractical in every aspect of fire fighting and doesn't belong as part of the uniform. I wear the same uniform they do and am expected to perform the same way they do that's the way it should be. If you want to wear a skirt do it off shift. (Sorry for sounding harsh but this just isn't a profession for skirts or feminine touches, even as a dress uniform.)


RE: Fire helmets — 04/05/05

I would think they would provide you with gear to train with, I'm not sure how Florida works though. All helmets I've ever had have been adjustable so it doesn't really matter, some are heavier than others though so that may make a difference in your options. (Trying them on will be the only way though that you will find what you like.) Plus once you get on a full time department, you're not going to be using that helmet anymore, they will have you sized and fitted for gear.


Keeping Cool — 03/29/05

I'm currently in the academy and I love it, but with summer quickly approaching, I'm starting to get worried about the heat. It gets very hot here in Florida.

I was wondering if you have any suggestions for staying cool. I was thinking about trying Under Armour (clothes for working out in heat) under my clothes. We have to wear uniform cotton shirts (dark blue)and jeans or dark pants under our bunker gear.

Being in bunker gear for 8 hours in the blazing sun isn't fun (as I'm sure you all know). Has anyone tried Under Armour? Anyone have any suggestions (other than drinking LOTS of water)?



Scared about starting fire school — 03/29/05

I am a 26 year old woman who will be starting fire school in about 4 months. I'm scared though because my husband is a fire fighter and everyone who has ever gone through it told me how hard it is and how only the strong survive. I'm not the most physically fit, but I want to prove to myself that I can do it.

Everyone around me is telling me that I can't do it, and I would really appreciate some words of encouragement from women who have gone through what I'm about to. Also any advice that you think will help me while in training will be really helpful. I'm scared but excited and I can't wait to finish and look back and say, "Holy cow, I can't believe I did that"!!!

RE: FDIC — 03/24/05

I've gone out to the Fire Chief's convention before. It's mostly guys there... I'd go. You are going to further your education. If you don't want to deal with them, don't.


RE: Maternity work pants — 03/23/05

I also stayed on the rigs for my pregnancies. I went to light duty around 24 - 28 weeks, because I was getting too big for my uniform. Prior to that, I just bought bigger pants and wore a sweater/sweatshirt over my uniform shirt. Because I knew that the guys would have a problem with me being on the rigs while pregnant, I didn't tell them. Once it got obvious, I went to light duty. Hope this helps.


RE: FDIC — 03/23/05

My advice to you is to go, don't pass up the opportunity just because of how the guys may or may not behave. They may surprise you. I live in Indianapolis, so I don't have to travel and be with my shift-mates all the time. Be thankful that your chief is offering to pay your way. This is one of the biggest trainings in our own backyard and it's hard to get passes with our paid department.


I did it! — 03/23/05

I just wanted to share my news! I just found out that I passed my state exam! So I'm now official! It's great to know you're all out there and I'm glad to be working with you!


FDIC — 03/22/05

Hi, I am a volunteer firefighter in NY State. I've been in the department for 5 years and have been a Lieutenant for the last three. I've attended the Womens Weekend at Montour Falls all three years so far. This year my Chief asked me to go to FDIC in Indianapolis. There are about 14 guys going (from my deparment. and three others). We're driving down for the week. Because guys can act like children sometimes, especially when they are away from their wives, I'm not sure if I want to go and possibly feel uncomfortable. Then, I thought, why should I let them stop me from learning so much by going to the HOT Training and seminars. I'm looking for some advice as to the decision of going or not going. Just wondering if anyone has gone to FDIC Indy before. Any help would be greatly appreciated!


RE: Class A dress uniform issue — 03/20/05

Honestly, I'm here to make my mark, as you call it, as a fire fighter. The fact that I'm a woman is coincidental. I work for one of the nation's largest departments and would be horrified if I were to be segregated from my brothers by being made to wear a different uniform than them. This isn't about being a woman, its about being a fire fighter. If you can do that and do it well, everything else is fringe.


RE: A girl with a dream — 03/19/05

I am a volunteer firefighter. I have served in my small (16 person) department for four years. I am one of four women -- one is older than me, two are younger -- one is 18. My department does not have a physical fitness requirement, but I train with weights and walk a treadmill five days a week. I am 44 years old. I value physical fitness for two fire-service-related reasons: first, heart attack is the top cause of firefighter death in the US (setting aside 9/11/01). I want to have a strong, enduring cardiovascular system. Second, the mental/cognitive attitude I have developed while strengthening my muscles, endurance and stamina has given me confidence in my abilities on the fire ground, and toughened my attitude of service.

I agree with Gwyn: I encourage you to contact your local chief(s), see if you can attend a training session, ask if you can observe on drills. Rules differ, insurance policies differ, resources differ, requirements for hiring or volunteering differ among departments. Your local folks may not know what to do with you -- don't give up, Show Up! Persist.

Also, check with your state college/university. In Arkansas, we have a state fire academy serving both career and volunteer fireighters. Look at the curriculum. Check out the National Fire Academy for resources.

If you have other questions or would be interested in some back-issues of Firehouse or other ff magazines, you can contact me off list .

Laura Riedinger

Shannon Hills, AR VFD

RE: A girl with a dream — 03/18/05


Depending on where you live, there may be a fire explorer program or junior program at your town's fire department. I would contact them and see what the rules are. I am chief advisor for my explorer post here in Connecticut, as well a volunteer firefighter in town. I am sure your local fire company would love to hear from you. Good luck :)


Subject: Firefighting survey for PhD Student — 03/18/05


I am a PhD student in psychology at the University of Michigan working on my dissertation. I am interested in the stories firefighters tell about their work and how these stories relate to other aspects of their work. I would appreciate it very much if any firefighters were willing to complete my survey on the web by clicking here

The survey takes most people about a half hour to complete. It is a huge help with my degree if people are willing to fill this out.

Amy Trahan

Information needed for English paper — 03/17/05

How many paid, professional women firefighters are in Idaho? Are the physical qualifications at the fire academy the same for both males and females? If, not what are the differences? Are there any differences in the qualifications for higher positions in the organizations?

I am trying to show that female firefighters are just as capable at fighting fires than the men. Any information would be greatly appreciated.

Patty from North Idaho College

Thinking about fire fighting — 03/17/05

What a great site. A week ago a local paper here in Adelaide, South Australia, advertised a seminar for women interested in joining the metropolitan fire service. I am interested and will attend the seminar. I feel much more informed and prepared for it since finding WFS. Thank you.


Getting Started on a Fire Career — 03/17/05

I see a number of young women asking how to get started in this career and thought I'd try and give them a little direction. Firefighting is not like most careers where the steps are clearly laid out and every department will have different requirements. Some departments require absolutely no experience at all and the tests they give require no firefighting experience to score well. A high score will earn you an interview and if you can demonstrate in that interview that you possess the right qualities and have demonstrated in all areas of your life that you would make a good firefighter you may be offered a job. However, most top applicants will have some relevant experience. It may be military, volunteer firefighter, fire academy, or emt-b/paramedic school. Go down to your local department or a department you think you might like to work for someday, and arrange a ride along. Not only will you get a feel for the job, you can ask questions like "what kind of backgrounds do your new hires have?" and "what kind of tests does your department use." Different departments will have completely different answers. There is also a ton of information on the web and this website has a good section. Whatever path you choose, get/stay in shape, stay out of trouble, and get a solid basic education. Good luck!


Preemployment workout program — 03/17/05

I am working with the YMCA on the development of a preemployment workout program for the CPAT.Several departments have had success using these programs. My question is how many have used such a program, or would use such a program?

Thank you,

Kurt Vogel

RE: Class A dress uniform issue — 03/14/05

I agree with women being able to have the option of wearing skirts, but for those that don't care for them, they are afraid that if the chief sees how nice it looks, then he may mandate it. I like skirts because it does bring a feminine touch. Just because we work with men, doesn't mean that we have to dress like them too. We live in an era as to where it is time for the world to wake up and realize that women are taking over the fire service. There are not alot of us, but we are here to make our marking.


RE: Too old for fire school? — 03/14/05

I live in Texas and according to our civil service rules and regulations, I do believe that the cut off age for a paid fire fighter is 36 years of age. But when working with a volunteer department, age shouldn't be a factor. I guess you need to inquire within your community.


RE: Hello ladies — 03/14/05

E-mail me and we can talk a bit. I have some enlightning things to tell you.


Phoenix Fire — 03/14/05

Hello, I am currently studying for my written exam for the Phoenix Fire Department in Arizona. I am searching for suggestions and support in my journey to become a firefighter. I have currently completed my EMT course and am studying for my EMT certification test. Any suggestions, I would be soooooo grateful!!!


RE: Departmental policies — 03/11/05

We have bylaws. You are on probation for 6 months before we send you to Level I. In this time the person gets familiar with the apparatus and other members. Training is mandatory -- unless you work nights and weekends. You can not miss more than 3 training sessions or 6 meetings a year. If you do, a letter is sent to your residence to see what your intentions are.


A girl with a dream — 03/11/05


I am 14 years old, and I had to study on firefighters for a school project. I have learned very important and interesting things. I myself want to become a female fireman, but I'm not sure if I have what it takes. I know that I still have time to think about my future, but my heart is really set on becoming a firefighter. Can you please help me and give me some more information on female firefighters? Thanks again.

Love always,


RE: Class A dress uniform issue — 03/11/05


I'm the only uniformed female on the staff at the State Fire Academy. I am issued both slacks and skirt with my Class A's. Frankly, I usually wear the skirt. I respect the opinion of the sister who felt skirts were inappropriate, but I disagree. I see nothing wrong with a touch of femininity in the venue that Class As are usually worn in. I would be strongly opposed to mandating that women wear skirts, but I think a well-tailored uniform skirt should be an available option.


Changing the fire service culture — 03/10/05

I work for the Wichita Fire Department in Wichita Kansas. Like most of the Fire Service we are suffering from a monoculture. I am working on changing the attitudes of this atmosphere and I am hoping for some help. Any information that you may provide will be greatly appreciated.

-What worked with your department

-What did not work

-What can be done better


Thank you for your time,

Kurt Vogel

Maternity work pants — 03/10/05

Hello everyone,

I am currenty 20 weeks pregnant and I am still a combat firefighter, however I am no longer able to wear my work pants (go figure) so I was hoping that someone out there can guide me in the right direction for maternity work pants.



RE: CPAT Training — 03/10/05

I just found this book that helped me out alot. It seems that everyone is using the CPAT now. I just did the physical agility twice and did really well. Some of it was kind of complicated, so I was really glad I didn't have to have my first run count.

Anyway, the book was called Pass Fire Test. It's an easy read, but it has a ton of info in it. I just hope I can pass the psych test.

Good Luck!


RE: CPAT Training — 03/09/05

Hey Jessica,

I found a great training program on this website for the CPAT. (That was a while ago, though, and I can't remember exactly where it was, but it was very helpful.) If you can't find it on this website do a search for CPAT on the web as I know there is information out there.

Also if you get the opportunity I think doing a couple of practice runs through the test is extremely helpful, this way you can find what areas you need to improve on. I did a practice test with the Mesa Fire Department in Phoenix one weekend. They walked us through the test and gave us an opportunity to do each part of the test and then we got to run through the whole thing. This was so helpful.

I am about the same size as you and found the dummy drag really hard. When I went home I got an old army duffel bag and filled it with 160 lbs of salt (this was the cheapest weight I could find at the supermarket). I dragged that bag up and down my driveway a couple of times every day. I tested with Salt Lake County FD last year, and although they didn't use the CPAT, I passed their test with a great time and especially kicked ass on the dummy drag. Anyway hope this information helps you out.


RE: Class A dress uniform issue — 03/08/05

We have two females on our volunteer FD, we both were issued pants with our Class A Uniform. Which is fine with me, every uniform on our department is the same except the officers badges are different and the chief's blouse jacket buttons are gold. The chief's hat is white. I once heard a female FF (on another FD) say she thought she should be allowed to wear a skirt, since she had nice legs. This certainly is not a place to be showing off one's legs. We don't need skirts to show we are women. In the old days slacks were only to be worn by men, women were not allowed to wear them. Know it is the normal to wear them and some women insist on wearing a skirt. "We have come along way baby."

Sue Schlesinger

RE: "Rescue Me" — 03/08/05

The show's main character is a drunk who sees dead people. The other firefighters are either portrayed as idiots, lazy contractors or womenizers. You think the women is the only one that is being viewed badly. They make being a firefighter as a big joke.

Sue Schlesinger

Becoming a firefighter — 03/08/05

I would like to become firefighter, but know nothing about how to get started and need help. I am in the military and live in a small town in Plattsburgh, New York, but want to know what I can do to get started in my town.

Thank you,

Elizabeth Bradley

Online survey — 03/08/05


I work for Rio Hondo Community College in Whittier, CA. We have been given a federal grant to help us recruit female cadets into our police and fire academies. Integral to the process is finding out as much as we can about women in law enforcement and fire service.

I have created a detailed survey that is available online. We would be very grateful for any women firefighters to participate. You can find the survey at

Thank you,

Howie Beazell
Rio Hondo College

Too old for fire school? — 03/06/05


I am in E.M.T school at S.C.T.I in Sarasota, Florida, at the moment. I have been employed with Sarasota County Emergency Services for many years as a lifeguard/supervisor of lifeguards for many years. I am 49 years old at this time. My question is: Is 49 too old to be able to complete fire school?

Thank you,


Firefighter injuries — 03/05/05

I am trying to find out what the statistics are between the number of women firefighters injured in the line of duty compared to the number of men firefighters injured. I was injured in the line of duty on 2/6/03, I hurt my back and neck on a rescue call and have been disabled ever since. I am getting the runaround from the insurance company. They are only paying me $120/month instead of what I should be getting. Please help me if you can.

Yavonne Relyea

RE: Departmental policies — 03/04/05

Wow... I never knew of this site. IT'S GREAT! But, Lara, I would like to share the policies of the VFD I am on. The policy of our department for attendance is if we miss three scheduled calls, which includes page outs for emergencies or meetings. If an individual misses three he/she will then be contacted by the Chief via phone or letter, if the individual responds within thirty days by attending a call of meeting he/she must present reason for absence, if he/she does not respond after 30 days the Chief will attempt to contact. If no response with in another 30 days. The individual will be considered non-active and removed from the roster.

This policy is also in the by-laws for the other two VFDs in my county (Gogebic County, western end of Upper Michigan). Any additional questions, please e-mail me:

Jennifer Niemela

P.S. By the way... It's awesome to have a site for women finally. I am the only female on my department of 25. Way to go Fire Ladies!!

CPAT Training — 03/04/05

I am a 21 year old female about to start training for the CPAT in south Florida. I was wondering if any women can possibly give me some pointers as to what areas to specifically work on. I am only about 115 lbs., but very strong and in shape. Any help with certain exercises and/or training ideas would be greatly appreciated. Please post a reply or

Thank you,

Jessica Welker

Getting a job already — 02/25/05

Hello all. I am a certified (and registered) EMT in San Diego about to graduate with an AA in Fire Science Technology. I have been trying for nearly a year to find a career in municipal fire fighting, with no luck. CDF is a viable option, but not my first choice. In California it is becoming more and more prevelent for firefighters to be paramedics upon applying...which amounts to another 2.5 years of schooling. If any established firefighters could help me out with some leads, that would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

Email me at

Networking & workout partners — 02/25/05


I'm a volunteer FF/EMT in Dousman, Wisconsin. I'm looking for ladies in the Milwaukee, WI area who are either firefighters or are in the hiring process. I am currently applying for a couple of departments but my main concern is passing the dreaded CPAT test. If anyone out there is interested in getting together to network, get in shape for the CPAT, or just to chit-chat, please e-mail me at

Thank you!

RE: After Pregnancy...? — 02/22/05

Hello Firemam Sam,

Glancing through this website, I read your letter & would like to offer my own personal experience as a firefighter and new mom. I have been in the fire service for a little more than ten years and became a mother to a beautiful son three years ago. It was definetly an experience, as first-time pregnancies are, because I was the first female in my department to become pregnant. We did not have SOGs or anything on this because the department never had a firefighter become pregnant.

Fortunately, my captain was married and had three girls, so he was a little more understanding of the changes I was about to experience as a firefighter and soon-to-be mom. As soon as I informed my supervisor of my pregnancy, I was moved from the station I was assigned to at the time and moved to Headquarters as a Driver/Engineer. This was fine because I was still able to work shift. At about the fifth month, Chief decided it was time to put me in the office. Monday through Friday. Whew! What an adjustment! After six-plus years on shift, this took some getting used to. Again this was fine with me because those late night calls, especially structure fires, were starting to get to me. It was hard to sleep. My lower back began to hurt. Couldn't get comfortable in my bed, in addition to the 'sickness' throughout the day. It was taking its toll.

I survived daywork! I worked until about 2 days before I gave birth. My son was born Jan. 4: after the New Years' holiday, I came back to work for one and a half days, then went into labor. I was out for about 3 months. I had an emergency c-section and glad I took the time off. It was perfect for me because being a new mother and the c-section were stressful on me and my body.

Now I have to admit that getting back into shape was a challenge for me. First of all, genetics are not on my side! I have always been thicker than most females. I have never had a problem or questioned about my ability to do my job, so I was not worried about never being able to perform again. I just wanted to get back into the swing of things and be healthy for work and my new son.

Right after I had my c-section and my doctor cleared me for duty, I tried to do a sit-up and couldn't do it. I cried! It didn't take long before I was able to do sit ups again. Just a little patience and practice. I just had to remember that although my doctor cleared me for light duty eights weeks after my surgery, that did not mean I was able to fight fire right away. As a matter of fact, I was not allowed to lift anything over 25 lbs. and was only able to walk for cardio exercise. Had to give my body time to heal. Because of this I went back to work as a Driver/Engineer for a short bit. I enjoyed this because it allowed me the opportunity to get back into shift work.

It took some time but I got back into shape, a little longer than I wanted to. I was able to compete as an individual in the Firefighter Combat Challenge at our state firefighters' conference and in the Regional Scott Combat Challenge the following year. Dedication and honest hard work paid off as always.

Now going back to work after my son was born wasn't really hard for me. I guess because I spent my career as a firefighter away from home every third day. A new baby didn't change that for me. A couple of female paramedics I knew told me that I would cry the first day I went back to work. I would call every 5 minutes to check on him. "You just wait and see!" Well, I didn't. I didn't think I was a bad mom for not doing this either. I was just ready to come back to work and continue my career.

Being a parent has changed my views on a lot of things in life and at work. I am not ashamed to say that I live for my family and although I am a dedicated firefighter, I want to be able to go home every third day and be a part of my child's life as he grows. I want to be able to one day tell my grandchildren about some of my 'adventures' as a firefighter. I want them to be as proud as I am.

Hope I was able to help. I am looking forward to comments or questions.

Thank you,

Lt. B. Horton
Beaufort, South Carolina

Departmental policies — 02/21/05

Hi. My name is Lara and I am on a volunteer fire department. My department is currently in the process of making a policy manual. Right now we are working on the attendance policies and I was just wondering what other departments have for volunteer fire fighters. We are having problems on deciding what counts for the attendence. fires count when you can't predict them. If anyone could help me out please feel free to email me back. I'd like to take a few different departments' policies with me to our next meeting if at all possible.

Thanks for your time,


Fire helmets — 02/20/05

I am a 21 year old female that is just preparing to join a fire academy in Florida, and I was just wondering if any women firefighters out there could possibly give me some information on what style helmet to buy. Seeing as we are women and are heads are not as large as mens'. Please e-mail me at .

Thank You.

Hello ladies — 02/08/05

Hello ladies,

I'm 34 years of age and just graduated from the Fire Academy in December of 2004. I was the only female in my class and also the oldest. When I passed the CPAT I was so happy. It was definitely a challenge for me. I too, realize that it is a blow to the macho ego when we women prove that we can do this. I'm 5'3", 135lbs with a big passionate desire in my heart to serve my community as a FF.

I'm a little worried about the hiring process. Today, I am a completely different person than I was in my 20's, and there are a few discrepancies on my criminal record. No felonies, but it is embarrassing to sit across from a panel of male firefighters and tell them about my record (it all comes down to how unmanageable my life was back then and the poor judgement I used).

Anyway, I face not only the challenges of being a woman and getting hired, but I have to face the demons from my past as well. Does anyone out there have any pointers for me? Maybe you, too, know someone in the fire service with a story similar in some way.

Best wishes,

Firefighter Kraft

Inquiry from Canada — 02/01/05


My name is Sara, I'm 18 years old and I am interested in firefighting. I am from Canada and wondering if you need any schooling like fire science or something along those lines, or any programs that might help me out a bit. Please e-mail me back at if you have any info at all. Thanks.

After Pregnancy...? — 01/18/05

Hello all,

I've been a firefighter/EMT for about 11 years and have finally decided to get pregnant. It's been a very tough decision and I am so curious to hear other women's stories about how they survived "light duty," staying fit and/or getting back into shape after the baby... how much time you took off after the baby was born, etc? Were you happy to go back to work, or was it hard being gone 24 hours? How many folks took Fire Prevention jobs (or other 8-5 type positions) instead of going back on line? Any and all information is welcome.

Thank you,

Firemam Sam

Networking and weight lifting — 01/10/05


I am a firefighter/EMT in Portales, New Mexico. I am looking to network with other full time career firefighters in New Mexico or West Texas. I am also hoping to get a new weight lifting program and was wondering what programs other women were using. You can email me at


Melissa Clark

Appreciation for equal treatment — 01/10/05


I am a volunteer firefighter in upstate New York. I just want to acknowledge my fire department for taking such great care of me. I have never been treated differently than my peers (either male or female), I have been given great opportunities, including extra classes and the NYS Women in Firefighting seminar at the NYS fire academy for the past two years. I've learned so much, and I've only been in a little over two years. It's not often that you hear a women that is treated well in the fire service. I am here to say it does happen, I have been very happy in my department. This year is my first year as a Lieutenant. I am the second women lieutenant in my department. I enjoy the fire service and hope to keep going for quite some time. I hope this gives hope to others out there.

Thank you,


Thanks! — 01/05/05


I am ecstatic to find such a wonderful website! It has given me a lot of answers that I have been looking for! I am currently in the US Air Force working in a WMD/Emergency Management based career field. However ever since arriving for duty have been overly intrigued with the possibility of re-training into Fire Protection. Recently I have gotten even more motivation to make the change, so I have started to really do the research to decide for sure. (I have a year and a half to get physically and mentally prepared.) As I said, the postings I have read have really inspired, and informed me. I can ask the Fire troops around here all I want, but I can't get a woman's view. I would love any more input, or encouragement from anyone!

Thanks for all the encouraging words for those of us who are a bit hazy and hesitant in jumping in to a male dominated career (not that I've ever been intimidated to show up the "boys"!!).

Re:Growing frustration — 01/04/05

Regarding being "passed over".

I forgot to mention, I also wrote to my senator, forwarding him my letter I wrote to the WFS Bulletin Board. My senator responded and asked more questions, which I answered. This MAY have helped my 'appointment'.

'Finally Hired in NY State'

Re:Growing frustration — 12/16/04


I signed my letters "Tired of being passed over in NY State" I too, had been passed over by less qualified and had paid for my own EMT training. I wrote 3 times to this bulletin board, if you care to read them, 11-7-04, 10-30-04, and 6-8-04.

I graduated Fire Academy 11-23-04 with the highest GPA and now I am Nationally Certified in Fire Fighter 1 and 2. I work for a paid department of about 135 men and one other woman.

You may want to mention to the person responsible for hiring, somestatistics of minorities (fire fighters) in NY State.

You may want to make an appointment with a local lawyer to talk about youroptions. I canceled my lawyer appointment a few days prior to theappointment. Who knows, maybe it got around to the powers that be, that I had made an appointment..

I got appointed after being passed over 3 or 4 times in 3 years.

Good Luck, and don't give up!


'Finally Hired in NY State'

Growing frustration — 12/12/04


I need some advice/help. In May 2003, I took the NYS Firefighter Exam for Civil Service and scored first on the exam, on top of being the only female on the list. Since then, I have been passed over 3 times for a position and they refuse to even appoint me as a substitute.

This fire department does not currently have any minorities serving, and the list is almost exhausted (there were only 6 or 7 of us). I went out of my way to qualify for this position, to the point of paying for my own EMT certification and a personal trainer for the CPAT. Now I've just found out that the two men they just appointed ahead of me to the full-time position have failed the CPAT. They are both now crying foul to the people that hold the CPAT's because they claim that they were never properly prepared for the exam.

Both men are very heavy (250+) and extremely out of shape. This is the first time they have actually participated in the CPAT: they were supposed to take it last month and they put it off because they didn't feel that they were ready to take it (and neither of them has so much as gone to the gym). I was in the same CPAT Orientation Class as they were in August, because they were planning to appoint me as a sub, and not only did we get to fully review the course in a half hour movie, but we also got a training manual for the CPAT breaking down EXACTLY how to train for it (i.e. what machine to use, how many reps, etc.)

Is there anything I can do about this, or someone in New York I can contact? I'm getting extremely frustrated and depressed that the city obviously doesn't think I should be allowed a chance to serve my community.


Lisa Cramer

Class A dress uniform issue — 12/12/04

Hello Women Firefighters:

Please post or email a reply as to if you have a skirt or pants as your Class A Dress uniform issue?

Thanks for your information and have a safe day.

Canadian peers, pregnancy policies — 11/28/04


I am a female firefighter from Ontario, Canada. I have just discovered your website this past month and I have found it very interesting to browse through.

I am searching for peers in my province that can share information about "pregnancy in suppression" and how their departments put a plan into effect. Currently my department does not have anything in place. I am trying to gather information in order to help develop a plan and in turn prepare for my own future, from a pro-active stance. The response from my union has not been very supportive. They want to "deal with it when it happens", and I do not want this to be an issue that is specific to me as an individual. I want to be able to make plans for my family while having a policy to look at and base my decisions on and for other women on this department in the future.

I have been unsuccessful in finding any organizations that are specific to Canadian women in the fire service. Perhaps you could be of some assistance to me and point me in the right direction... that is if there is an organization of its kind that exists.

Thank you for your assistance.


Mediation process — 11/12/04

Due to a lengthy process of increasing problems at my department, I have filed a complaint with the EEOC. During the processing of this complaint they asked it I would agree to attempt mediation. I said yes. With mediation, you have to come to the table with demands including monies, as this is the only way to get them to admit "guilt" as mediations will find no fault. I have no idea what to ask for. While the thought of taking their money sickens me, them further damaging my reputation and career is unacceptable to me. Is there anyone that has been through this process that can share in "general" terms what they asked for and what they got? Any advice would be appreciated. Please post replies here or email them to



Complaints in Colorado — 11/12/04

I am looking for some advice from my sisters. I am from Colorado, and when you were all here for the conference a year ago, I was astonished at the number of women with complaints or reasons to advocate for equal treatment. I had candid discussion with several women that we didn't seem to have a discrimination problem in Colorado.

Then our well-respected chief was removed, and a new one took over. The months since then have snowballed into daily torment and destruction of professional reputations. Several complaints have been filed with our department, and an outside investigator has been conducting interviews that are readily inflaming an already hot work environment.

We are looking for some direction. These complaints are from both volunteer and paid personnel. None of these ladies have money for legal services. How or where do we find a legal representative that can assist us through mediation? (We don't anticipate that this will ever go to court. Resolution demands are not out of line, and monetary demands are very low.)

Please forward any thoughts or ideas on the matter.

Thank you.

Passed the CPAT! — 11/07/04


"Tired of being passed over in NY State" HAS PASSED THE CPAT AGILITY TEST ! (mandatory) with flying colors!!!!

Total allotted time: 10:20 min/sec. My time: 08:35 min/sec.

I had a better time than one of the guys in my class, half my age! I was very surprised at my time, because during practice on a similar course, I scored an average of 09:55 min/sec. I pushed myself real hard because I was afraid of failing by 2 seconds or so....

I hope this gives hope to all the women who are going through similar tests.

Best wishes,

...A woman firefighter in NY State

In training in NY State — 10/30/04

Greetings --

My letter was signed "Tired of being passed over, NY State." (6-8-04) The good news is: I was appointed! I have been in basic training for a paid city fire department of 136 men, 1 woman. I will be woman #2.

My training started September first. Some days have been hell, but it has been so for my fellow trainees, too. I am the only woman in a class of nine. (Funny thing is, I have had more FF training and more EMT training than anyone in my class!) I am halfway through this training.

I have accomplished the 3-minute stair stepper with 70 lbs on my back! It took me a few weeks to get this far. I could do50l bs but the 70 was my stumbling block. My tears were mixed with sweat and weren't very noticeable, nor did I give a damn.

I have been treated very well by the firefighters and officers, (for the most part). I am pretty tuff and I am not young; this helps. I am 40+; the men in my class are around 23-29 years old. There are a couple in my class who do not speak to me. Oh well... their loss. I may not be quite as strong, but my mind is quicker than most and I can fit in tight spaces with ease.

My BIG test is November 4th, it is called the CPAT. I will keep you posted.

Thanks for being there.

A Female Firefighter, NY State

Need help with survey — 10/24/04

Hello, my name is Genevieve Bures and I am a Certified Fire Investigator in Ohio who is completing my degree at Capital University. My senior paper will be on women in the safety forces. I would like to send a survey to every female firefighter, EMS, EMT, police officer and fire investigator in Ohio. The survey does not require your name or any other personal information, the questions are geared toward the differences experienced by females in the safety forces. If you can help, please e-mail me at .

Thank you,
Genevieve Bures

Research questions — 10/15/04

My department, Lynchburg Fire and EMS, in central Virginia, is currently researching information to plan for the year 2015 in regard to enhancing our employment of women fire and EMS providers. Following are a list of questions we are researching. It would be great to have some feedback. Also, if someone knows of some existing recent studies that might contain pertinent info, that would be even better.

  • 1. What factors have contributed to the increase in the number of women in Fire / EMS service?
  • 2. Are those factors likely to continue to contribute to further increases in the next ten years?
  • 3. What particular aspects of Fire / EMS make it an attractive career option for women?
  • 4. What options in career development appeal to women?
  • 5. What benefits and working conditions are women looking for to assist them in merging their professional career and personal life?
  • 6. What job skills of Fire / EMS service delivery are, on average, more difficult for women to perform than men?
  • 7. Can the same service delivery be achieved through the use of different procedures or different equipment?

Contact Master Firefighter Jim McCann via e-mail:

"Rescue Me" is sexist and offensive — 10/13/04


My fiance and I just watched the latest run of "Rescue Me." I have to say we were both disgusted and saddened. He is a firefighter and MICU medic with 20 years; we work EMS together.

I feel so sad about they way they treated the female firefighter in the series and how it's all portrayed. Very, very sad. Concern here is that this is not helping the macho egotism sexisim attitudes and treatment of women in this field. Being one who has suffered and survived this, I find this show dangerous in its encouragement of further perpetration.


Need advice for discrimination! — 10/12/04

I am a 45-year-old woman who in March received my EMT ticket. I was thrilled because the local fire chief said he would send me to school if I would give him one year after I completed school. Well to work in a fire station after having been a legal secretary for over 20 years was so exciting to me. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. I was so happy.

I'm going through a nasty divorce, and while in school my soon-to-be ex kept on telling me that I'd never make it and that I would be an awful EMT, etc. Well, I made it and started to do my observation time with my local station -- (4 full time guys working 7-11 - two shifts - and the nights and weekends are on-call). In the meantime, the chief had decided to go 24/7, and wanted to hire 4 full-time people to complete his full-time staff (working two 10-hour days, and two 14-hour nights and having 4 days off). This of course means building a bunk facility and showers.

As I did my observation time, I realized I was being treated differently than any guy who had done observations. A couple of the guys kept telling me I was getting the run-around and that they don't want me there. When ordering EMS pants, I was told I had to get men's pants, as that was what he had ordered for any female who had previously worked at the station. (They had all quit over the treatment they received.) The lieutenant took a measuring tape and stuck it up to my crotch and was smiling like you wouldn't believe so he could measure my inseam. (These two guys -- one is the EMS Director -- are two of the three guys giving me a hard time). They kept delaying ordering my pants, which finally arrived after a month and a half.

The general standard at the station was evidently to observe 10 runs, drive the ambulance home from the hospital, then the EMS Director (a paramedic -- we are a BLS station) would ask you if you felt comfortable and you would say "yes" and then you could go on call. But that was not the case for me. I had to do "official driver training." None of the guys had to go through this, even if they never drove a truck before. Then I had to do more observation time -- again, none of the guys had to go through this, but I was suddenly told that the standard (no SOP exists) is actually 10-20 runs. More incidents went on, but I managed to get through it, without complaining and figured I can learn if I did more observation, etc.

Once I was finally given the "blessing" of the EMS director, I was on call. But little things kept happening, being done only by a couple of guys. The other guys have been extremely supportive, but the chief really doesn't like confrontation and has no idea at all what I've been through, and would not be interested in hearing it.

Meanwhile the chief

Re:Complaints in Colorado — 01/05/04

I am in Colorado too and going through this right now -- in fact next shift I will probably be disciplined because of being a whistle blower!

E-mail me

Thanks and good luck.

— 11/30/99
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— 11/30/99
Subject: Looking for some insight — 11/30/99

Hello all,

I am a "retired" medic, not a firefighter, but where we live, single role medics work with the fire department (Our department also has FF/Medics). I currently stay home with my children (I should mention, that my certs have lapsed LONG ago, and getting re-hired will take a small act of God) and I am married to a firefighter. Our department works a Kelly schedule, which I am sure you all know, can be hard on families. Well, actually the job itself is hard on families, but the schedule sure doesn't help.

There are some younger wives with small children at my husband's station/division that myself and the ONE female FF/Medic at his station (who also has small children) try to lend as much support as we can to.

What I have been looking to find on-line is any kind of message board/support group, etc. that is dedicated to families (not necessarily just wives/husbands, but parents, siblings, etc.) and I cannot find one to save my life. If anybody knows of one, PLEASE let me know so I can pass it on. Also, if there isn't one, I was thinking about starting something (although I am not sure how to), so knowing if there isn't anything like that out there, that would help too.

Thanks for letting me ask. Stay safe!


— 11/30/99
— 11/30/99
— 11/30/99

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