Meet a Modern Day Superhero
Firefighters are modern-day superheroes. Every day unbeknown to us, they risk their lives to save others and keep us safe. Currently, 90% of firefighters are men, with women making up less than 10 percent of the U.S. fire service. What does it take to be a firefighter in a field that men dominate? Let’s find out!
BREAKING DOWN BARRIERS
Andrea Binley, the fire captain of San Bernardino County Station 74, knew she wanted to become a firefighter when she discovered the fire service as a teenager while in school. What drew Andrea to become a firefighter is the continuous learning, physical challenge, and the ability to help and serve her community.
Due to her diligent work, determination, and focus, she was promoted through the ranks to the role of Capitan. Andrea didn’t focus on her gender, stature, or size but instead focused on her ability to do the job well.
Being held responsible and sharing the same tasks as her counterparts is something Andrea values as she strives to meet every task and training with as much enthusiasm as the men.
Early on in her career, Andrea found a mentor, a fellow firefighter who encouraged, coached, and reminded her that hard work is what gets you ahead.
ANSWERING THE CALL
Becoming a firefighter generally requires candidates to be 18 years old and pass several tests and background checks. The application process includes several health screenings and tests to ensure you meet all the requirements necessary to keep you and others safe in extreme situations.
Andrea had a mentor, a fellow firefighter early on, and was in a great learning environment, which allowed her to flourish in her career. Andrea focused on her ability to do a great job and noticed that the people performing and doing the best at their jobs were promoted based on their performance and not their sex. While the gender gap is steadily closing, some men still believe women don’t belong in the fire service.
“Self-doubt is not your worth. Your work doesn’t validate you, and it’s your job to show up and be present.” - Capitan Binley
The requirements are the same for all firefighters regardless of their gender. Andrea values that her career path wasn’t based on her size, stature, or her gender, but rather on her ability to perform tasks as well as anyone else.
THE ROLE OF A FIREFIGHTER
Tenacity, adaptability, humility, and positivity are a few of Andrea's best qualities.
“The job changes, and you have to be able to change with the time; covid is a good example for that change. Adaptability and humbleness is acknowledging that you don’t know everything.” - Capitan Binley
Andrea enjoys that the fire service is constantly changing and evolving to meet safety measures to ensure the public stays safe. Firefighters respond to different scenarios every day from:
- Treating a sick or injured person
- Working with patience with new medical technology
- Identifying hazardous situations
- Dealing with chemical spills
- Operating updated vehicles
- Continuous learning and attending training programs
- Fighting wildland fires and structure fires
- Responding to traffic accidents and performing extrication
WORDS OF ADVICE FROM THE CAPTAIN
Today’s first responders provide a large number of services to keep their communities safe. Unfortunately, very few people know what happens behind the scenes. Firefighting can take a toll on your mental, physical, and emotional health. Capitan Binley reminds us that it is critical to continuously...
“work on yourself, focus on personal development, do things that inspire you, and strengthen you. Find a mentor to help develop your strengths, learn about yourself at a deeper level, don’t be afraid to talk about therapy or the hard calls. As a female, I bring a skill set the guys can’t. Young kids, moms with babies, pregnant women, rape victims, moms safe surrendering their babies are relieved when they see a woman who can understand them and can be soft and get on their level.” - Capitan Binley
FOLLOW CAPITAN BINLEY ON HER JOURNEY
If you would like to follow Fire Capitan Andrea Binley on her incredible journey check out her social links below.
Blog: Work It Mama