Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Under the airmask: a firefighter is a firefighter

I was a little nervous about joining the fire service because it is a predominantly male field. I had wondered if the guys would be accepting of me as a young female.

When I applied to my local fire company I wanted to know if other female firefighters served there. While it wasn’t the most important question I wanted to ask, it meant something to me. Before I had a chance to ask, the membership director told me the good news: one active member and one away at college. Two more females joined after me. I went through fire school with one of them, and we both earned our Firefighter I national certification.

In addition, two other female firefighters were in our class. On the first day in fire school, one of the instructors lectured about the history of the fire service and its diversity of members. Instructor Andrew Hunger said that it’s not about what you look like, what your gender is or who you pray to, it’s about performing the job. As a female Christian firefighter, I greatly appreciated that he felt like that. It was encouraging to hear someone prominent say that to my class of 40 students.

“Everyone is the same under their airmask,” Hunger said.

Instructor Joseph Lombardo Jr. agreed and said that male or female, career or volunteer, a firefighter is a firefighter.