Women In Fire

Film transcript - Women In Fire

There are thousands of persons in fire and police work, and recruits are constantly being added to the ranks. But only those with certain qualifications are accepted.

I’d never even thought about it. I’d never met any female firefighters. I didn’t, you know, see posters or media stories about them. No one ever said to little tiny Lacey, like, do you want to be a firefighter when you grow up? You know, just never considered it an option.

When you see a woman my size, who’s five foot two, and you know there’s middle schoolers that are bigger than I am, you might have a moment where you think, is she, can she really do everything that a firefighter needs to do?

You know what, I would say I’m aware that I’m the only woman on the crew.

I work in a fire organisation with about 20 people, in our small town, and two of us are females.

On my crew we have, uh, 24, and I am the only woman.

With my department, there’s only two of us. Just two ladies, that’s it.

If I knew I was going to be burning the next day, there’s a lot of prep that I would still take the extra minute to take off any fingernail polish because I didn’t want to be girlie on the fire line.

I think on a daily basis people think that I’m the secretary for our company.

Women are not firefighters. I get it all the time. You know, you can’t be a firefighter. You’re a girl.

At my station here in Yosemite, there was a gentleman that came into the office looking for the fire chief. And he asked me where the fire chief was and I said well that’s me. And he said well they didn’t tell me you were a woman.

I really just stumbled into fire. One of my best friends from high school fought fire for a summer and came back and said I totally found your dream job – you have to come with me next year. And so I followed him to a hand crew, to a fire crew the next summer and here I am. That was eight years ago. And I’m still in it.

It’s hard to feel, like, you can ever get there. Coz I don’t see any women, like, in the job that I want to have, so you get this this tape in the back of your head, even if it’s really quiet, saying well you can’t do this coz women don’t do that job.

Sometimes there’s a feeling that I have to be twice as good to be considered as competent as my male coworkers. I don’t want to make a mistake in front of the men because I don’t want that to reflect badly on all women, which can get in the way of learning and trying new things.

But in this environment at the WTREX we make a really conscious effort to make this a safe learning environment. It’s really great to get that different leadership style. That different learning style from someone you can relate to a little bit more.

When you’re talking on the radio, you need to be able to actually paint that clear picture. Who else needs help?

We’re having those conversations about how do we create the support network. How do we create a more inclusive culture. So that we can create some really impactful changes in the future.

I would never have the chance to meet this many female firefighters if I just went through my fire career on a normal trajectory. This is something we all need. To not get burned out. No pun intended.

Last piece before we split. Have your group back here, loading up, getting ready to roll. Have fun today.

We do a job that is inherently risky. We go into areas that most people really wouldn’t want to get near, and we do it because we care about the land, and we care about protecting communities.

I mean, like look at these women. We’ve got women on hot shot crews, they work 16 hour days, they don’t take lunch, you know, they eat on the go, they’re carrying chainsaws and five gallons of water at a time.

We’ve got women here that work on engines, we’ve got forresters who are out all day taking inventories. Women from helitac crews. We’ve got women in leadership. You want to talk about some logistics and some planning, and making the really important decisions, these women are rockstars.

The best place to start is at morning line up everyday. Ask yourself what is the numerical strength of my company. How many men do I have.

It calls for young men with good health, mental alertness and the willingness to risk personal injury, even death, in protecting the lives and property of others.

I think we place a lot of limits on our little kids and we kind of shove them down one path or the other based on nothing else but these stories we’ve created in our culture.

I want as many little girls as possible to see me in this outfit as I can possibly manage.

I hope young girls or someone out there that says I want her job when I grow up.

I want to get in that front seat of that big ladder truck and I want to be driving it so that every little girl and little boy that sees me driving sees that there’s a woman in that seat doing that job.

That’s my goal for young girls coming up, is that see role models and they say well if she can do it, I can do it.

They can do anything in the world that they want and that’s not just firefighting – any career.

I want to break that chain. I want little kids to know that there are so many more options when they grow up and it doesn’t matter where you come from or who you are – that you can go find something that makes you happy.