Why register? ...To Enhance Your Experience
+ Reply to Thread
Results 1 to 15 of 15
  1. #1
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Wisconsin
    Posts
    3

    Default Women Firefighter

    I just have a question for all of the fellow firefighters.

    Let me first say that I am a 20 year old female firefighter in a small town volunteer department, I've been on the department for all most a year now. The department is made up of about 40 guys and one other female ff with me. To this day, many of the other male firefighters don't trust that I know what I am doing and they don't believe that I will be able to carry out tasks and such. I have proven myself to many of them. I am unsure what else to do. We get about 160 fire calls a year, so that makes it hard for me to show them on the fire ground that I do indeed know what I am doing. And that I do not need my hand held the entire time I am on or off the accident scene. I guess I'm asking for advice, because to this day I still get the look from many of the other ff's. And I'm not sure what else to do. I've tried time and time again to prove myself to them all. I will give them that I do sometimes ask questions, but who ever said by asking questions some of the times, means that you don't know what you are doing?

    I don't want this to sound bad..I don't at all want to sound stuck up either. But many of the guys have made remarks to me, that I'm only there for the guys to look at me. And I'm not sure how to get around this either. I am there to do the job and the job only. I had no intention of anything other then that.

    I thought that by now this wouldn't still be a problem, but I'm not sure what else to do. Does anyone have any suggestion?!

    Thanks


  2. #2
    MembersZone Subscriber
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Location
    Gloucester County, NJ
    Posts
    36

    Default

    Got three things for you,
    Some of these guys you will never be convinced of your worth (it’s just a cultural thing, don’t take it personal).
    Some of these guys are going to resent you, due to the fear that a “gurl” could be a better FF than they are (or are willing to work to be).
    There will be some that will allow you the opportunity to show that you are worth their respect.

    This ain’t McDonalds, the respect will take some time (certainly more than a year).
    If you allow these issues to consume you, you are not going to make it.

    (I’m a volley FF/EMT, I have worked with several women in the U.S. Navy, the Fire/EMS Service, and the commercial power industry – Women can do the job (or…)

    Stay focused on the job - Good Luck!

  3. #3
    MembersZone Subscriber ffemtPAJ's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    North Carolina
    Posts
    209

    Default been there

    As a female firefighter who has been there, I offer this advice:
    1. Yes, you will have to work twice as hard for the same respect, but in the end you will be a better firefighter for it.
    2. Be very aware that the first assumption some (thankfully not most) guys will make is that you are a badge bunny. This isn't personal. Now that I've been around a while, I've seen what problems a few BB's in a firehouse can cause and understand the concern. Knowing this, you need to remember to be professional at all times. No dating any of the guys, excessive flirting or other unprofessional behavior. Dress appropriately at all times whether on duty or not. You are up there for business.
    3. Train, train, train. Take every opportunity to learn something new. This will show how seriously you take the responsibility of being a firefighter and will show your skills.
    4. Do not assume that every time you get teased or picked on that it's because you are female. Being a rookie is tough on guys too.
    I hope this helps. Good luck!!!
    PAJ

    IACOJ Rehab Sector

  4. #4
    Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Posts
    39

    Post Re: been there

    Originally posted by ffemtPAJ
    4. Do not assume that every time you get teased or picked on that it's because you are female. Being a rookie is tough on guys too.
    I hope this helps. Good luck!!!
    At the dept. I work at we have about 10 female firefighters and I've seen them be hazed just like every other firefighter, I think sometimes they take it more personal than the guys do. I am the youngest Paramedic on my department (22 years old) so when I started I had a lot to prove, it just comes with time. We all get picked on, it's part of the job. So my only bit of advice is to hang in there and show them what you can do. Being on as a volunteer at a dept. that has only 160 calls a year you are going to work extra hard in order to show what you've got, but it'll happen. In my area women serve in every rank from volunteer all the way to battalion chief. Good luck, and like ffemtPAJ said, DO NOT DATE ANY OF THE FIREFIGHTERS....bad news there. Carry on!

  5. #5
    Forum Member Dave1983's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    Gator Country
    Posts
    4,157

    Default

    Originally posted by nucrunner
    Got three things for you,
    Some of these guys you will never be convinced of your worth (it’s just a cultural thing, don’t take it personal).
    Some of these guys are going to resent you, due to the fear that a “gurl” could be a better FF than they are (or are willing to work to be).
    There will be some that will allow you the opportunity to show that you are worth their respect.

    This ain’t McDonalds, the respect will take some time (certainly more than a year).
    If you allow these issues to consume you, you are not going to make it.

    (I’m a volley FF/EMT, I have worked with several women in the U.S. Navy, the Fire/EMS Service, and the commercial power industry – Women can do the job (or…)

    Stay focused on the job - Good Luck!
    Pretty much sums it up. But may I add, since your department doesnt run a lot of fires, you need to make an impact at drills. Take your training VERY seriously. That should help a bit.
    Fire Marshal/Safety Officer

    IAAI-NFPA-IAFC/VCOS-Retired IAFF

    "No his mind is not for rent, to any god or government"
    RUSH-Tom Sawyer

    Success is when skill meets opportunity
    Failure is when fantasy meets reality

  6. #6
    Forum Member fflynn17's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2000
    Location
    Finally Vermont!
    Posts
    459

    Default

    What they all said...

    There will always be the ones that will not accept you. Ignore them and work harder than the guys.
    DRESS APPROPRIATELY no tank tops or short shorts or tight anything at the station.

    Give them time, just be careful of your expectations if you decide to run for a firematic officer in the years coming--just when you think the "female thing" is not an issue, you may get a surprize.
    9/11/01 Never forget Never forgive

    Dusty, working on Crusty IACOJ

  7. #7
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Wisconsin
    Posts
    3

    Default

    Thank you to all of those that have replied. The advice was great. I guess the only other thing that I should add is, that I do realize that everyone does get picked on, regardless of gender. But being there, and seeing how others are treated compared to me, it's different. For example, that if I miss one drill or one meeting, all the sudden I am getting into "trouble" for it. When we only have to make 20% of business meetings and drills. There are guys that havne't been around the station in months, but when I miss one, then it becomes a big problem.

    Also to clear some of the things up, I don't dress with tank tops down to the station or any of that. No short shorts either.

    I'm sorry I was just sick of all the things and just wanted some advice how i could get it to stop. And also by no means am I just being touchy and being a typically female either. I can put up with a lot of grief from the guys. But now, it's just not funny anymore and it's getting old. I love doing the job by all means. I couldn't image not Firefighting anymore.

  8. #8
    Forum Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Location
    MI
    Posts
    142

    Default

    Some "boys" never grow up. Hang in there.

  9. #9
    Forum Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    PA Dutch Country
    Posts
    18

    Default

    Kris-

    I share the same sentiments as many posts before me and must stress again to give it time. On the other hand, like FB1138 said, some guys will never change, especially when their ego is on the line. The best advice I could give you is to keep at it- don't give up, and don't let them see that this stuff upsets you. The more they see it bother you the better they feel. Also, follow the chain of command- you didn't say whether your officers were giving you problems (hopefully not) but if you tell them what's going on they may be able to address issue before they become problems (without you being called a tattle-tale). Go to as much training/classes as possible. My department is also small and runs typically 175 calls per year. How did I get the knowledge and respect? I went to state and NFA classes, got certified to FFII (which most guys around here are not) and *did the job*. Obviously, this did not happen over night and to this day I still deal with idiots at other departments. But, the way to "win" in this situation is to get people on your side by doing what everyone else does- be a firefighter. It took me 4 years to become a Captain(and have that confidence!), and now I am an Assistant Chief. Don't give up!

    Finally, as far as dating another FF- I too believe that may not be so great, especially since you're so new. However, on the bright side, I met my husband at a flashover class- sweats, grime and all. Our first date his pager went off for a dwelling fire. I told him he could go, but we were pretty far away to respond. Not many people understand the dedication required and the inopportune times those tones go off. Having a spouse understand this and be supportive of it is extremely important and wonderful in my case.

    Good luck!

  10. #10
    55 Years & Still Rolling hwoods's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Location
    Glenn Dale Md, Heart of the P.G. County Fire Belt....
    Posts
    10,739

    Thumbs up Yeah! What She Said!..................

    Originally posted by Bageler34
    Not many people understand the dedication required and the inopportune times those tones go off. Having a spouse understand this and be supportive of it is extremely important and wonderful in my case. Good luck!

    Talk about speaking volumes in a single paragraph! I couldn't agree more. I'm a Gray haired old Chief who had quite a few years on before the first woman joined the VFD, and, at the time, wasn't really impressed. Some of the member's wives got annoyed at the idea that women were at the Firehouse, others took great offense that some woman wanted to join the VFD instead of the Ladies Auxilary. A little while later, my wife joined, and, as they became old enough, 3 of the 4 daughters also joined. True, the "Family thing" was a help, but there were the "Women can't do that" people out there who persisted in trying to belittle whatever the girls did. Over time, these folks just kinda disappeared, and things improved. Today, we have 35 women among 102 members, and we're damn proud of every one of them. Last January, my wife was elected President, the first woman to hold that office in the 77 year history of our Company. (see www.gdvfd18.com) She also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of our County Volunteer Fire Association, and has been a committee Chair for the State Fire Association for quite a few years now. There are a lot of ladies out there who are in your position, and there are those who have made it to a point well up the ladder, such as my wife. ALL of you are doing a good job, and should not be intimidated by anyone. Hang in there, your day will come.
    Never use Force! Get a Bigger Hammer.
    In memory of
    Chief Earle W. Woods, 1912 - 1997
    Asst. Chief John R. Woods Sr. 1937 - 2006

    IACOJ Budget Analyst

    I Refuse to be a Spectator. If I come to the Game, I'm Playing.

    www.gdvfd18.com

  11. #11
    Forum Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Posts
    197

    Default my 2 cents...

    I've been in your shoes, Kris. I joined many years ago and was scorned by the wives - the pretty young girl who just wanted to be around their husbands. The guys tried to get their egos heightened by making the same comments. Oh yeah, almost all of the guys wouldn't ride with me on the trucks for quite a while too. It was aggrevating and disheartening. Not being as strong as I am now and not sure how to correct the problem(s), I left our department on a couple of occassions, but missed the job and returned. The last time I rejoined and had troubles, I finally sat down with the Chief and laid the law down. Nothing has been said or suggested since.
    It does take time to gain their respect, some you won't, and that's just life. They're the jerks. I can certainly relate to feeling the difference in how you're treated, but you can't take it personal. I've been running with the same guys for 15 years. I took it personal and that's why I left those two times. At times, I still feel as though I'm not part of the cliche, but I can't let that bother me. I'm not there to be their best friends, just to serve my communities. We work very well together now, and I have no problems with any of them. I think they're too afraid of me. ha ha.
    You hang in there, do your job and do it well, and everything will work out.
    Make sure you talk with your officer(s) about this, as Bageler34 sugggested, so it doesn't get any worse. You can't go in as a hothead, but you do have to stand your ground.
    PM me anytime if you need to talk.

  12. #12
    Forum Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Posts
    19

    Default

    Kris,
    Get as much training as possible, show up and do what is asked of you. If you have a problem go to the head of the dept. If you don't get any results go to the commissioners or the village board. Unfortunately some people do not realize that this is the year 2005 and not 1965.
    Good Luck
    Chris

  13. #13
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Location
    CT
    Posts
    194

    Default

    We should start a club . It takes some time, really. More than a year, maybe more than two years, it all depends on the guys. I lucked out when I joined the junior fire squad at 16. I was, at the time, the only junior member and one of three women. The guys just took me as a little sister to train and watch over, everything from teaching me all the basics and then some, to checking out my prom dates every spring . I've grown far past that, though, but they still watch out for me and teach me new things that I've missed while I was away at school. In fact, we had our annual department banquet last weekend, where my date got to keep hearing all night long about how much the guys respected me and trusted me. It made me feel good to hear it after quite a few years working with them. While on my last ship, however, as the only person with fire training beyond STCW mandated advanced shipboard training, I was pretty much pushed out of any active role during fire and boat drills because the mate in charge told me that since I 'was a girl, and not as strong as the rest of the guys', I should make it my job to keep accountability.

    I'm not going to comment on the miserable things I've been through
    as the sole woman in a lot of places (FD, search and rescue team, engineer on a ship, etc...), that won't help you. What I've learned might. We, as women, have to give more than 100%. We've got to sweat twice as much, bust our knuckles twice as much, push ourselves twice as much, all while never giving up, crying out in defeat, or asking for help. Most men I know (fiance included ) admire brains, brawn, and beauty in women... probably in that order (except for the lowlifes, who put it in reverse). Show them what you're made of. Be courageous and confident. Be positive and upbeat. Never back down from a challenge, and never let them help you until you've tired yourself out trying.

    One more thing... Smile .

  14. #14
    Forum Member Weruj1's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 1999
    Location
    NW Ohio
    Posts
    7,857

    Default dont forget to check here ..........

    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?
    "but I guarentee you I will FF your arse off" from>
    http://www.firehouse.com/forums/show...60#post1137060post 115

  15. #15
    Forum Member DennisTheMenace's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Washington, DC/Northern Virginia
    Posts
    3,717

    Default Re: Women Firefighter

    Originally posted by kris21
    I just have a question for all of the fellow firefighters.

    Let me first say that I am a 20 year old female firefighter in a small town volunteer department, I've been on the department for all most a year now. ....... To this day, many of the other male firefighters don't trust that I know what I am doing and they don't believe that I will be able to carry out tasks and such.
    I think that there is a good chance that the less then a year in the Department is a much bigger issue in the catagory then your gender. Don't take their "hand holding" as an insult, take it as them wanting to teach you and help you develop. Less then a year in the department is barely getting started, this is YOUR time to learn still, not to try and prove yourself.
    Be for Peace, but don't be for the Enemy!
    -Big Russ

    Learn from the mistakes of others; you won't live long enough to make them all yourself.

    Quote Originally Posted by nyckftbl View Post
    LOL....dont you people have anything else to do besides b*tch about our b*tching?

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts