Women in Firefighting
THE HISTORY OF WOMEN IN FIREFIGHTING
Since 1987, March has been recognized as Women’s History Month; what initially started as Women’s History Week soon changed to Women’s History Month after growing in popularity. After being petitioned, congress passed the Joint Resolution statute, officially establishing what we know as Women’s History Month.
We at True North are dedicating a full month to celebrate women, women firefighters who came before us, the women we are today, and the generations of powerful and inspirational women to follow.
THE FIRST FEMALE FIREFIGHTERHistorically firefighting has been a male-dominated profession, with women comprising less than 20 percent of firefighters in countries where they are most actively represented.
Molly Williams, a slave, was the first female firefighter in the United States.
Limited details about Molly Willams show that she was part of the Oceanus Engine Co.11, in Lower Manhattan. She is described as being able to perform her job with the same strength and speed as the men in her firehouse. Williams became known as “Volunteer No.11”.
The Second-wave feminism movement removed obstacles that made it challenging for women to enter the workforce, thus enabling women to become firefighters.
CLOSING THE GENDER GAP IN FIREFIGHTING
The shift in the large number of women serving as firefighters started during World War II, which replaced the male firefighters fighting overseas, resulting in thousands of women working in traditionally male-dominated professions.
There are very few workplaces in the United States where women have not gained entry, but it is still possible for fire stations to hire their first female firefighters. Nationwide, only 4.3 percent of women make up the firefighters, according to DATAUSA .
LEADERSHIP ROLES FILLED BY WOMEN IN FIREFIGHTING
Many women in various parts of the country are taking leadership roles and getting recognized in their communities. For example:
- America’s all-female firefighter leadership team in Decatur, Georgia, where Toni Washington, Vera Morrison, and Ninetta Violente lead the only fire department in the country where the top three positions are held by women.
- Jayme McConnellogue, Battalion Chief, serves the Colorado Springs first-responder community and is the vice president of Summer Heat Fire Camp, a weeklong academy for young women learning firefighting and leadership skills.
- Tonya Hoover, Deputy US Fire Administrator and National Fire Academy Superintendent, is responsible for a multitude of high-level tasks and operations at the USFA.
- Tiffany Green, Fire Chief from Prince George’s County, is the first woman to hold the office of fire chief. Tiffany is among the 70 female fire chiefs out of more than 29,000 around the county.
BREAKING DOWN SOCIAL BARRIERS FOR WOMEN IN FIREFIGHTING
While the number of women firefighters in the United States remains relatively low, the women in leadership positions are making strides and changing the landscape as they continue to break down social barriers.
Here at True North Gear, we have developed a women's wildland pant (Pro) exclusively designed to solve the challenges women in the wildland fire community face with it comes to PPE fit.
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