What is it about female firefighters that sets some firefighters’ wives, well…on fire? Okay, I’m not completely naïve; female firefighters equal competition. Some weeks it is hard enough to stomach the fact that your husband spends more hours bonding with other guys than he spends with you. Add a woman into the mix of firehouse camaraderie and many wives immediately see red. Every commonplace thing around the firehouse now becomes a jealousy-tipped spear aimed at your firefighter.
I never thought much about these brave ladies in the past because they were common at the larger departments where we’ve been. I admit that my husband is uniquely smart in that he chooses not to make juvenile comments to trigger jealousy. In turn, I never trap him with the loaded question, “Does this dress make my butt look big?” (Just a hint: women already know the answer. This question is just a test of the Emergency Witchcast System. Anything you do will cause catastrophic failure. So, good luck.) My husband and I have a high level of mutual respect in these areas because we choose not to set each other up for disaster.
Since our current department is in a smaller town than we’ve ever lived before, it is more difficult to find women firefighters. We have one woman who is high-ranking and a strong leader in the department, but she was the lone female until recently. When word traveled through the grapevine that another woman was being hired, I saw hackles rise on some of the wives, quickly followed by the questions, “Which shift?” and, “What station?” and, “Is she pretty?” I started to wonder if I too should be jealous and worried, but I ditched that notion in a hurry because it takes way too much time and effort.
When my daughter heard the news though, she said, “Good. I think the department needs more women firefighters as good role models for us.” I was taken aback. Our daughters cannot wait to meet the new firefighter and see her in action. Rather than just being indifferent toward this change, I think I’ll adopt their refreshing view of things. After all, we’ve never been big on raising our girls to be weak, dependent wall-flowers anyways.