Status Report 2005

One of the many functions of Women in the Fire Service is to maintain current statistics on the numbers of women in firefighting. We have been researching and compiling this data for more than twenty years, and are the only agency in the U.S. to do so.

This report covers suppression-trained women in the U.S. with career-level positions in structural firefighting (or, in the case of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, a combination of structural and wildland firefighting). It does not include volunteer firefighters, who are so numerous and spread out over so many thousands of fire departments that we would only be able to track them if each state collected its own data - which most do not. It also does not include wildland firefighters (other than those in CDF); we hope to improve our data collection in that area and eventually provide a comparable status report for that sector of the fire service.

The total number of female firefighters and officers included in our current data is 5,845. Adding a conservative 5% to account for women not included in these statistics gives a current estimate of some 6,137 women active in career-level structural fire suppression in the U.S.

Following is a state-by-state breakdown of the data, including the number of female firefighters in each state and the number who have been promoted to engineer, sergeant, lieutenant, captain, and chief. As a convenient shorthand, "chief" in the listings below designates any level of district chief, battalion chief, deputy chief, assistant chief, etc., while women at the top level of their department are listed separately as "chief of department." Where a disproportionate number of the women in a particular state work for a very few fire departments, that is also indicated.

It should be noted that because different fire departments and different regions vary in their rank structures, exact comparisons are misleading. Some fire departments do not use the rank of captain; some others, particularly in California, do not have lieutenants. A captain, therefore, might be an engine company officer, a ladder company officer, or a station commander supervising one or more lieutenants.

Following the state listings are summaries of the numbers of women officers, the top five states in terms of number of women firefighters, a list of fire departments with the highest percentages of women firefighters, and a list of the ten largest U.S. fire departments that employ no women firefighters at all.

WFS' data collection is always a work in progress. We gather it in many different ways: from our contacts with fire chiefs, from newspaper articles and press releases, and -- most importantly -- from our members and friends. We hope publishing this report will encourage WFS' members and supporters to continue to help us update the information and keep it as current and accurate as possible.

Alabama 46 women on 10 fire departments
(28 of the 46 are on the Birmingham F.D.)
2 engineers, 4 lieutenants, 3 captains, 1 chief
Alaska 14 women on 3 departments
2 engineers, 1 chief
Arizona 116 women on 19 departments
(81 of the 113 are on Phoenix & Tucson)
14 engineers, 3 lieutenants, 12 captains, 2 chiefs
Arkansas 14 women on 6 departments
(10 on Little Rock & North Little Rock)
1 chief of department
California 1347 women on 136 departments
(896 women on CDF, San Francisco, Los Angeles City & San Diego)
115 engineers (70 on CDF), 10 lieutenants, 60 captains, 15 chiefs, 7 chiefs of department
Colorado 153 women on 26 departments
(91 women on Colorado Springs, Denver, Aurora & Boulder)
5 engineers, 18 lieutenants, 4 captains, 2 chiefs
Connecticut 62 women on 30 departments
1 engineer, 3 lieutenants, 1 chief of department
Delaware 6 women on 1 department
1 captain
District of Columbia 80 women on 1 department
5 sergeants, 3 lieutenants, 1 chief
Florida 775 women on 115 departments
(250 on Miami Dade County & Orange County)
20 engineers, 42 lieutenants, 12 captains, 14 chiefs, 2 chiefs of department
Georgia 127 women on 28 departments
1 engineer, 7 lieutenants, 2 captains, 2 chiefs, 2 chiefs of department
Guam 1 woman on 1 department
Hawaii 10 women on 4 departments
Idaho 2 woman on 2 departments
Illinois 183 women on 66 departments
(80 on Chicago)
2 engineers, 8 lieutenants, 1 captain, 1 chief
Indiana 91 women on 31 departments
4 engineers, 4 lieutenants, 1 captain, 3 chiefs
Iowa 38 women on 13 departments
2 lieutenants
Kansas 31 women on 13 departments
(12 on Topeka)
2 engineers, 4 lieutenants, 1 captain
Kentucky 30 women on 14 departments
1 engineer, 2 lieutenants, 3 captains, 1 chief, 1 chief of department
Louisiana 72 women on 11 departments
(44 on Shreveport & Baton Rouge)
2 engineers, 1 lieutenant, 4 captains, 1 chief
Maine 9 women on 8 departments
1 lieutenant
Maryland 249 women on 7 departments
(100 on Montgomery County)
1 sergeant, 5 lieutenants, 3 captains, 4 chiefs
Massachusetts 84 women on 52 departments
4 lieutenants, 1 captain, 1 chief
Michigan 150 women on 29 departments
4 engineers, 8 lieutenants, 3 captains, 2 chiefs
Minnesota 95 women on 8 departments
(70 on Minneapolis)
2 engineers, 15 captains, 1 chief, 1 chief of department
Mississippi 25 women on 10 departments
(10 on Jackson)
1 lieutenant, 5 captains
Missouri 64 women on 27 departments
2 engineers, 7 captains, 2 chiefs, 1 chief of department
Montana 7 women on 5 departments
Nebraska 23 women on 5 departments
(17 on Omaha)
1 engineer, 3 captains
Nevada 61 women on 8 departments
3 engineers, 6 captains, 1 chief
New Hampshire 13 women on 10 departments
1 chief
New Jersey 19 women on 14 departments
1 lieutenant
New Mexico 35 women on 11 departments
(24 on Albuquerque & Bernalillo County)
1 engineer, 1 lieutenant, 1 chief, 2 chiefs of department
New York 107 women on 31 departments
(55 on New York City and Buffalo)
1 fire marshal, 3 lieutenants, 3 captains, 1 battalion chief
North Carolina 133 women on 32 departments
(61 on Charlotte, Durham & Raleigh)
5 engineers, 2 lieutenants, 13 captains, 4 chiefs, 1 chief of department
North Dakota 5 women on 4 departments
Ohio 208 women on 63 departments
13 lieutenants, 6 captains, 2 chiefs, 2 chiefs of department
Oklahoma 34 women on 7 departments
(17 on Oklahoma City)
4 captains, 1 chief
Oregon 74 women on 16 departments
2 engineers, 3 lieutenants, 1 captain, 2 chiefs
Pennsylvania 43 women on 11 departments
(21 on Pittsburgh)
1 lieutenant, 1 captain, 1 chief
Puerto Rico 2 woman on 2 departments
1 lieutenant
Rhode Island 20 women on 8 departments
(13 on Providence)
South Carolina 35 women on 19 departments
1 lieutenant, 1 captains, 1 chief, 1 chief of department
South Dakota 4 women on 2 departments
Tennessee 97 women on 20 departments
(46 on Memphis & Chattanooga)
10 engineers, 4 lieutenants, 2 chiefs
Texas 324 women on 49 departments
(144 on Houston & Dallas)
18 engineers, 9 lieutenants, 7 captains, 9 chiefs, 3 chiefs of department
Utah 20 women on 9 departments
4 captains, 1 chief
Vermont 6 women on 3 departments
Virginia 234 women on 26 departments
1 engineer, 11 lieutenants, 3 captains, 2 chiefs, 2 chiefs of department
Washington 204 women on 30 departments
(121 on Seattle & Tacoma)
1 engineer, 11 lieutenants, 4 captains, 3 chiefs, 1 chief of department
West Virginia 16 women on 5 departments
Wisconsin 129 women on 30 departments
(76 on Madison & Milwaukee)
2 engineers, 11 lieutenants, 1 captain, 4 chiefs, 1 chief of department
Wyoming 1 woman on 1 department,1 company officer

Total women in promoted positions

Engineers: 221
Fire Marshals: 2
Sergeants: 6
Lieutenants: 202
Captains: 194
Chiefs (other than top-level chief): 88
Chiefs of department: 31

Top states by number of women firefighters

California: 1297
Florida: 775
Texas: 324
Maryland: 249
Virginia: 234

Urban fire departments (more than 75 career personnel) with the highest percentages of women firefighters

Minneapolis, Minnesota: 17%
Madison, Wisconsin: 15%
San Francisco: 15%
Boulder, Colorado: 14%
Miami Dade County, Florida: 13%
Several other fire departments have percentages of women firefighters in the 9 - 11% range.

Largest fire departments with no women firefighters

Elizabeth, New Jersey
Atlantic City, New Jersey
Bayonne, New Jersey
Garden Grove, California
Allentown, Pennsylvania

Women fire chiefs

As of June 2006, there were at least 32 career-level or combination (i.e., with some career and some volunteer personnel) U.S. fire agencies whose top-level chief was a woman.

Department Chief Number of Career Personnel
Davis, California Rose Conroy 40
Prince William Co., Virginia Mary Beth Michos 218
Jersey Village, Texas Kathy Hutchens unk.
Naval Surface Warfare Center, Virginia Carol Shelton unk.
Madison, Wisconsin Debra Amesqua 270
Cobb County, Georgia Rebecca Denlinger 600
Isle of Palms, South Carolina Ann M. Graham 30
Harlan, Kentucky Linette Hutchison 3
Pecan Grove FD, Richmond, Texas Kathy L. Golden 1
Forest Park, Ohio Patricia Brooks 24
Bernalillo County, New Mexico Bett Clark 105
Bolivar City, Missouri Patty Head 1
Steubenville, Ohio Terri Kovach 40
Carmel-by-the-Sea, California Sidney Reade unk.
Woodhaven, Michigan Janet R. Sykes unk.
Harlan City, Kentucky Linette Hutchison 3
East Point, Georgia Rosemary Cloud 110
N.C. Army National Guard Air Facility
Salisbury, North Carolina
Crystal Linn unk.
Little Rock, Arkansas Rhoda Mae Kerr 391
San Francisco, California Joanne Hayes-White 1,800
Chennault Int. Airport, Louisiana Charlene Miller unk.
Berkeley, California Debra Pryor 140
Minneapolis, Minnesota Bonnie Bleskachek 452
Monterey Park, California Cathleen Orchard 60
Milpitas, California Clare Frank 80
Independence, Missouri Sandra Schiess 160
Seminole County, Florida Leeanna Raw 300
Tallahassee, Florida Cindy Dick 249
U.S. Army Garrison, Camp Zama, Japan Julie Thixton unk.
Pampa, Texas Kim Powell 27
Ridgefield, Connecticut Heather Burford 29
San Diego, California Tracy Jarman 900
 

NETWORKING THE WOMEN OF TODAY'S FIREFIGHTING WORLD, AND PROVIDING RESOURCES TO HELP BUILD THE FIRE SERVICE OF THE FUTURE

 

© 2006 Women in the Fire Service, Inc.

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