Hello all. I am interested in becoming a firefighter, but I see one problem. I am a female of only 5'5" and 115lbs. I worry that I will not be able to fit the gear and possibly carry the weight that is required of me. I also worry as there are currently no female firefighters on my department. If anyone has any similar experiences (male or female) please let me know. Thanks!
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03-03-2004, 08:46 PM #1
- Join Date
- Mar 2004
03-03-2004, 08:53 PM #2
Don't worry about gear not fitting. They make gear for all sizes. We have a couple females that are about your size and they have gear that fits them. As far as not being able to carry the weight......... start working out. There are many men that have issues with female firefighters. It may be tough for you. Especially if there are no current females. If you want to do the job, you will do whatever it takes to show that you CAN do the job. Lift weights. Go get a sledge hammer and practice swinging it against a tire or a tree stump...........
03-03-2004, 10:56 PM #3
Its no doubt women in the fire service have met quite of bit of resistance from such a male dominate job. Ive been around this business all my life, and indeed I've worked with female firefighters that could kick the snot out of male firefighters on the fireground.
Whether you are a male or female snot nosed rookie, everything you do will be critisized, some people belive its all part of testing your metal. Most firehouses Ive worked or visited (career or vollie) have a pretty raw sense of humor, you kind of have to be thick skinned.
My best advice is go in there with a positive attitude, show them that you are there for the same reason they are, not just because you are a female.We had a female firefighter when I was a vollie. She had a big chip on her shoulder the 1st day she walked in the fire station. She had the attitude everyone owed her the world in the fire service. She threatened to sue anyone if the made her do something she didn't like. When she saw she was treated just like any other snot nosed rookie she quit.
My buddy has a female on his department, and Im envious. I wished half our guys had her attitude. This is all she has ever wanted to do and she is living her dream. She's kinda small like you, and believe it or not shen can lug guys twice her size around with out killing herself.
As far as strength goes, if you are not physically active I reccommend you get a physical from a doctor and hit the gym. You don't have to be a power lifter to do the job. There are scrawny guys/gals on the job that are great firefighters.
If you can't afford or don't have time for the gym go and buy 'The Firefighters Workout Book'. Personal Trainer and FDNY Captain Micheal Stefano authored it. He even has a section explaining workouts for women.
Im not sure I totally agree with historyjunkie. ALL jobs on the fireground are 'important'. Especially the crew handing out water and coffee at the rehab wagon.
If you hook up with a responsible dept. They will team you up with someone who will make sure you won't get into something you can't handle.
The job is tough, hard, and dangerous. But, its the BEST damn job in the world. Paid or vollie.
If you know this is what you truly want to do, don't let ANYONE stand in your way.
Last edited by fieldseng2; 03-03-2004 at 11:00 PM.
03-03-2004, 11:33 PM #4
Go for it...
First- I would become a Volunteer, Reserve or Explorer
Scout to see if this career field is right for you.
Second- I dont think everyting is about size and weight
verse technique. Finding hte right technique is a key
to pulling hose and throwing ladders.
Lastly- There are some websites out there that might
give you some more info. Here they are-
Lots of FAQs there along with other helpful advice.
03-03-2004, 11:56 PM #5
Having a difference of opinion and debating them is what makes these forums fun!
Don't be afraid to speek your mind, and standup for what you believe in! Just because someone disagrees with you doesn't mean they are right or wrong.
Don't leave on my account, Im just a windbag anyway
03-04-2004, 12:23 AM #6
ditto '77 !!!!!!! for sure !
and oh ya ............there is NOTHING wrong with a mint shake !IACOJ both divisions and PROUD OF IT !
Pardon me sir.. .....but I believe we are all over here !
ATTENTION ALL SHOPPERS: Will the dead horse please report to the forums.(thanks Motown)
RAY WAS HERE 08/28/05
LETHA' FOREVA' ! 010607
I'm sorry, I haven't been paying much attention for the last 3 hours.....what were we discussing?
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03-04-2004, 09:17 AM #7
If being a firefighter is what you want then GO FOR IT! A positive attitude is the most important thing when trying to get on the job. If it is what you want don't let anyone tell you that you can't do it. Size and weight aren't really that big an issue. Like others have said above, do a little weight training and learn as much as you can.
03-04-2004, 09:23 AM #8
Good luck to you. You may want to start working out. Get use to lifting heavier objects, swinging a sledge hammer at a tree or old tire. Start doing streching exercises. Go to a local fitness center and get into a program there. Get a personal trainer and tell them that you want to get into shape to be a firefighter. They have excellent programs to build up muscles.
Have fun and don't worry about what the men will say. You know, most of them all have sisters and all of them have Mothers!!!
Stay Safe & Well out there.....
03-04-2004, 10:25 AM #9
We have two female firefighters about your size (five total) and both of them can do anything the rest of us can. One thing you might want to do is find a veteran female firefighter and talk to her. Because of the difference in male/female upper and lower body strength, there may be techniques she's learned that'll make it easier on you than the traditional, male-dominated techniques. I know one of our more experienced female firefighters does that with the new ones.
Best of luck to you, and has been said, go for it!Chris Gaylord
Emergency Planner / Fire Captain, UC Santa Cruz FD
03-04-2004, 11:54 AM #10
Ditto to what everyone has said so far...Go For It! As long as you are in it to be a firefighter and not for the attention (which it seems like you are in it for firefighting), you will be respected by your department. We have one gal in my vollie department that I and everyone else would run into anything with. But we also have those that are in it for the attention and scoff at doing training and work. But then again, the same can be said about some of the guys in my department.
Just know that you will go through the same "you are the scum of the earth" proby treatment as everyone else and the term "ball busting" will take on a whole new meaning. But as fieldseng said, it is the best damn job in the world.
03-04-2004, 12:09 PM #11Originally posted by fieldseng2
If you know this is what you truly want to do, don't let ANYONE stand in your way.
That's the bottom line. Go for it!
~Smitty"In Omnia Paratus"
"The only shot you'll never make is the one you never take"
"Men resemble Gods in nothing so much as in doing good to their fellow creatures"
IACOJ Member #235
03-04-2004, 04:26 PM #12
Being a gal on the job...although not a small one (5'11) but a gal none the less, I agree with everyone here. We have 3 other gals on the job...two are roughly your size and one other is 6'2. They are all senior to me and do a great job.
During my interview to get into Fire College an Instructor said "How badly do you want it ?". (I had re-arrange my entire schedule and previous job to get where I am today. I had less than a two week window to work from and was half way across the US when I had to make the decision) But I did it, I made it happen and 4 years later I will never looked back.
Anyways that is another story in itself. The point is find out what you need to work on(weights), find someone to help you(personal trainer, someone from the local gym), good technique in lifting is essential.(michael stefano's book is excellent...I have it) Talk to you local department or ask a local f/f for a tour. Look at the equipment, see what you will be dealing with, tell them you are looking into the career. Like the other suggestions...try explorers, junior f/f. I actually took a course about f/f in deep sea tankers. Gave me an opportunity to wear the gear and get dirty.
Size doesn't matter...you will find ways to adapt to getting the job done. Gear can be sized to fit. Don't worry about being the only female... Worry about learning everything you can, doing your job, knowing where everything is and how it works. If you don't know how it works ask, or try and fix it yourself if you can. Be a self starter, if stuff needs to be done...don't wait for someone to tell you to do it.
A positive attitude is a definate must... know what to expect when you first start out. Everyone has been a probie before you, leave the chip at the door and go in with an open mind/ears/eyes. You'll never regret the decision to join the service.
If you have any questions....drop me a line. Would love to help if I can. email@example.com
03-05-2004, 03:18 AM #13
- Join Date
- Apr 2002
- Austin, TX
I went to academy with a woman who is 5'5" and about 130 lbs. She started hitting weights hard for about 1.5 years before academy and she could bust out 50 pushups just as well as we could. There were sometimes that she needed to really focus on technique to do the job (like raising a 24' ladder by herself). She couldn't just heave it up there like big guys. But, the truth is, that after she spent a day working on technique, she could throw it faster and more efficiently than a big guy who didn't work on technique. The first time she did a combat her time was about 4.5 minutes and she was on the combat team and got around 2:50 a few months ago (which is world qualifying for women).
The point is, you can do this! Hit the weights hard and you can easily gain 10-15 pounds of muscle. The book that was recommended is good. Focus on big muscle groups and your core strength (that is what you'll need to use to throw a ladder and lift another FF).
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