Firefighting is not just for men

firefighter training

Firefighting is not just for men

Some women may grow up with an interest in pursuing firefighter basic training so they can do their part in one day battling blazes and saving lives. However, if these individuals have ever watched a fire truck loaded with male firefighters speed by, they may abandon their dream, thinking that this profession is reserved for men. If they believe this, however, they are wrong.

Female firefighters do exist
Even if firefighting is a male-dominated line of work, there are women who tackle fires alongside men. In the U.S., around 6,200 women hold jobs as full-time, career firefighters and officers, according to the International Association of Women in Fire & Emergency Services. The levels of firefighter training and titles vary among these women, but many of them serve as lieutenants, captains and district chiefs.

Not only do women hold jobs as firefighters in the U.S., but around the world as well. For example, in Great Britain, more than 200 women currently serve as career firefighters. Female firefighters can also be found in countries such as Canada, Japan, South Africa and Australia.

Many female firefighters are making history
Part of the reason why misconceptions about female firefighters exists is that in some areas, women suiting up and rushing into burning buildings is still unheard of. However, several women are making history and, in the process, helping eradicate these myths.

For example, Connecticut resident Kaitlyn Burrows recently became the Plainville Fire Department’s first female firefighter, The Plainville Citizen reported. Burrows’ gender has had zero impact on her performance as a firefighter, as she is known to be hardworking, does not complain and is always ready to learn.

“The first time I was on the truck with the lights and sirens going, it was a feeling like no other,” Burrows told the news source. “I knew this was for me. I knew this was what I was meant to do.”

Challenges women may face
Still, firefighting is not a career that any woman, or man, can excel in. Lt. Jeff Gauthier of the Milwaukee Fire Department told WUWM Milwaukee Public Radio that female cadets struggle more than men when it comes to developing certain firefighting skills. However, this does not mean they cannot master them over time.

“Typically with women, we find that it’s slightly less upper body strength, smaller biceps,” Gauthier said. “But once the students learn that if they use the techniques we teach them and follow the program that we put forth, if they’ve got the heart and the desire we can get them through the program.”

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