I am wondering what tips you might have for a woman who is interested in becoming a firefighter.
I am in good shape and hope to hear from some of the vetrans on how to start my career.
Thanks in advance.
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06-24-2007, 11:00 PM #1
- Join Date
- Jun 2007
Looking for information for a want to be female firefighter
06-25-2007, 06:05 PM #2
06-26-2007, 02:42 AM #3
Study mechanical aptitude. Know how engines (You know the ones used on saws, positive pressure fans, etc.) work. Learn to cook. Go to college. Test a lot. Good luck.
06-26-2007, 03:51 PM #4
- Join Date
- Oct 2006
- Southwest Ohio
go for it!
Hi, if you really want this career, go for it!
One thing I would encourage you to do is to build upper-body strength, which we women are typically not as great at as the guys. Lots of pushups, pulldowns, etc.
Another thing is to develop core strength. This can be helped along by the purchase of a weight vest (weightvest.com). You can wear it to do everyday things and your strength will gradually increase.
I am not the typical female firefighter - I am 49 and have been in the fire service for only 9 months. I am on an all-volunteer rural department, and I'm also on the fire team at work. I just passed my FF1 exam and did very well on both the written test and practical portions of the class. I've been on 4 structure fires so far and love every minute of it.
You didn't say if you were married, but it helps if your partner is either (1) also a firefighter, or (2) very supportive. My husband started this with me and it is great to do this as a couple. I think if your partner is not supportive, it would be very hard to do this, especially when the tones drop in the middle of the night.
The things I like about the fire service are the sense of helping our community, the brotherhood/sisterhood, and the strong physical challenge. I know I am an old fart, but so far so good and I will continue as long as I can be an asset to the department.
Right now I am the only female on our department but the folks have been very welcoming and accepting, for the most part. I think at first, they thought, what in the world is she doing here? But I work really hard and jump into everything, and that seems to be respected.
Best of luck to you. I think this is a field where everybody either absolutely loves doing this, or they discover right away it's not for them. There doesn't seem to be much wishy-washiness in anybody, and frankly as demanding as this is, you have to give it your all.
Let us know how you do.
You might also enjoy this website, which is run by the record holder for the Women's Combat Challenge, Juliet Draper:http://p073.ezboard.com/ffirefighterfitnessfrm15
06-28-2007, 06:10 AM #5
- Join Date
- May 2006
Hola from down under
Get to know your local crew. Get down there and have a chat with them, if they are a volly crew try and get on. I have found that the retained(POC) crew I am with at the moment have been great. There are 3-4 of us that actually train together at the gym (classes and free workouts). We know each others strengths and weaknesses and work better for it e.g. I work as an adventure guide (rockclimbing, hiking, rapelling etc) so the guys know that I absolutely spank them walking up hills and stairs with big packs (I'm only 5' 6) and will be the first in the harness for confined spaces/cliff rescues. One of the other blokes is a footy freak and just goes forever and ever - overhauling roofs, chainsaw work - this guy is an energiser bunny......and yet you wouldn't know this if you just took in how we looked.
Heaps of cardio is key too - you can be strong but if your recovery rate is s**t you'll do one stint in the interior and then be useless.
Dn't be afraid to ask for a hand with larger stuff too - no one wants to do their back in trying to be a hero hauling a ladder/genny etc
Good luck and keep workin', knowledge will get you a lot further than sheer braun in 99% of situations and for that last 1% thats why you work with a tight crew.
06-28-2007, 07:50 AM #6
Legs and lungs! Working out is only part of it, but it's a big part. You will need to be strong, very strong and you will need to be sure of your physical abilities. I had mentioned powerlifting to another lady and if you would like to pm me, I can give you a link to my workouts. I am a strong woman, and I've worked very hard to get there. Pullups, pushups, squats, thrusters, ball slams, deadlifts (powerlifting and crossfit, great for building strength). And don't forget to run and bike.
As for the rest of it; apply! I also agree to get out there and meet the guys in your area. I did that and it helped me tremendously when I finally got an interview here. I knew some of the terminology that is used here, understood the rank structure and was able to discuss the need for discipline in the fire service. I also agree that having mechanical aptitude is good. If nothing else, know how to start and clean all of the powered items on the rigs (saws, air tools, fans, generators, etc). Dependant on the tests, you will also want to have a good knowledge of formulas for the equations you will likely encounter (levers, pullies, gears, etc). It also wouldn't hurt to be an active member of the community, volunteer with local organizations, coach a sports team, play on a sports team, etc, show your ability to work well with others.
There is a lot to becoming a firefighter. I'll be honest, the first time I applied, I handed in my applicant package, wrote the tests and waited. That's simply not enough. If you are not chasing, you won't catch. Be passionate, get to know the guys, the station routines, the politics. Be very prepared for all of your tests and be even more prepared for your interview. You cannot study too much and you can never be too prepared. It's a hard job, but it's a great job! (and be patient, it took me 5 years to get an interview, but well worth it).
06-28-2007, 10:58 AM #7
Buy a book to prepare for the exam. I have a good one from ARCO. Print out the IAFF CPAT candidate preparation guide and follow the workout in it. I know someone on here has the link for it. If you don't have a home gym go get a membership. The weight vest is def. a good idea. When I took the CPAT I was wearing half my body weight on the stair mill.
Join a vollie dept. and get familiar with the equipment. If there isn't a volunteer dept. in your area see if you can do ride alongs with your local dept. If you want to go career and get on a paid dept work on getting your EMT.
Most important, don't whine. That's what separates me from the other female on my department. She just has joined and is on her probation, but she won't be with us much longer because of her actions. The guys readily accepted me because I kept my mouth shut and ears open and gave 110% on whatever they asked me to do. This new girl weighs less than a buck and is a drama queen and a liar. You have to prove yourself to the other firefighters before they will treat you like one of their own.
Good luck, I hope you get on and enjoy every minute of it!
07-02-2007, 10:09 PM #8
- Join Date
- Jun 2007
Sorry I didn't introduce myself. I live in the Roanoke VA area and I'm 41 years young.
Any advise would be greatly appreciated.
07-02-2007, 10:18 PM #9
- Join Date
- Jun 2007
I am working on enrolling in a local community college for an EMT Basic.
I know how to cook.
Thanks for the info and I hope your doing well.
07-02-2007, 10:38 PM #10
- Join Date
- Jun 2007
Thanks for the reply and congrats on passing the FF1 exam.
You go girl! I'm going to check out the weightvest.com site.
Glad to hear you are so happy.
I'm married and he is very supportive.
Take care and I'll keep you posted on my situation.
07-03-2007, 05:06 PM #11
Follow all of the advice given here, and don't let anyone tell you can't to it!
When someone zings you, zing them right back.. quick wit and quick thinking is an asset in the firehouse!
Don't ask for more time or special treatment because yuou are female... as far as the FD goes, you are one of "the guys".. and fire doesn't know the difference between genders!
Whatever training evolotion you are performing... do it better than everyone else.. make them look up to you instead of down on you!
We have three female firefighters on my FD. I have commanded two of the three as a Captain and now as Deputy Chief. Those I have worked with have been exceptional firefighters.
Good luck!"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
Lt. Ray McCormack, FDNY
07-08-2007, 11:00 PM #12
- Join Date
- Nov 2003
work harder then any one else, and most important always carry your own wieght.
07-11-2007, 02:30 PM #13
Roanoke (City & County), City of Salem, and Town of Vinton usually get together and run a regional testing center - participation of each agency is contingent on if they have openings to fill or not so there's no set schedule like once per year or anything.
The Physical Agility just recently switched from the old "Combat Challenge" to the new CPAT testing.
Anything you can find on training for CPAT will help you.
That being said - as Higby916 already pointed out - Legs and Lungs.
The inital Stair Mill on the CPAT drops a lot of applicants right off the bat - after that it's strength & aerobic endurance.
Next - since you're going for your EMT-B, consider joining any of the volunteer agencies to get some experience. Several county departments still have volunteers (Fire & EMS) and Roanoke City still has EMS Volunteers.
Even though I'll probably take some flak over this next part, I'll say it anyway (truth is truth no matter how unpopular it is). Your being a female will give you a distinct advantage with Roanoke City, also if you can claim any minority or veterans status you'll move higher up "the list" as well.
The fact that you're here asking what things you need to do to prepair shows that you're not out to get the job based on gender (or anything else), but rather on your own merit so kudos to you for that. Continue to train, study, and work hard to fight for the position and best of luck to you.
Just curious - which CC you getting your EMT-B from VWCC or National Business College? Also there are EMS council sponsored classes that come around every so often - Should be cheaper than CC classes.
You can keep tab on that training on the Western Virginia EMS Council (our protocol region) web site. http://western.vaems.org
Also you can see what Fire classes are being offered at http://www.vafire.com (We are in Division 6).Taking the classes now will be good experience, but if you get hired through the regional testing, then you'll go through the "Fire Academy" and learn how to do it "their way" even if you're already certified.Take Care - Stay Safe - God Bless
07-12-2007, 07:21 PM #14
- Join Date
- Mar 2001
- West Jordan, Utah, USA
Learn the Technique!
I have found that often the female firefighters I know often are better firefighters. You need to be in great shape, as all of us do. Often the women lack the brute strength, so they actually learn the proper techniques better. Understand, I believe every firefighter should meet the same physical agility standards, whether they are old, young, male or female. Proper techique usually requires less work. I would also recommend building up your SCBA confidence and stamina. This can be done by doing various excercises or skills while on air. We often walk stairs with hose packs, complete single man 24' ladder raises, drag 100' 2 1/2 100', etc. in full turn-outs, on air until your bottle is drained completly empty and sucking to your face. This can be a great crew work-out. Most of all keep working towards your goal. Good Luck.Firefighter/Paramedic Ron Sanders
Midvale Fire Department
Medic Ambulance 22 - A Platoon
Firefighters, Walking where the Devil Danced!
This is simply my opinion and does not represent the opinion or view of my employer(s) or any department/agency to which I belong.
Personal Website: http://RonSanders.Biz Check it Out!
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