Women Firefighters

Telford's Theresa Simmonds tests out the hose reel jet.

Shropshire women got "a taste" of life as a firefighter during awareness training sessions held by Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service which is urging more women to join up.

Two sessions were recently held at Telford fire station to encourage more women and people from minority ethnic groups to consider a career as a wholetime firefighter or to become a retained firefighter at one of the county's 22 rural fire stations.

They tried out some of the physical activities including carrying heavy hose reels and going aboard the aerial ladder platform to see if they have a head for heights. They also heard about the wide range of activities undergone by today's firefighter which include educating schoolchildren, businesses and members of the public about fire safety.

Emma Boffey, of Whitchurch, tests out her strength on the ladder lift.

Theresa Simmonds who already works for the fire service as a fire control operator, said she went along to find out what she would be letting herself in for if she did decide to become a firefighter.

"It was very enjoyable and definitely raised my awareness. I found the fitness tests hard but I did manage to complete them even though I felt my fingernails peeling off after carrying the 35 kilo bell bar for four lengths," said Theresa, (36), of Blackstone Drive, St Georges, Telford.

"I may consider it as a career but I wanted to see what I would be letting myself in for. I will get my fitness levels up and I am getting some weights for Christmas to build up some muscles and then I may try again."

Firefighter Scott Ellis from Telford Central's white watch shows Emma Boffey and Theresa Simmonds (right) the way up.

Organiser Natalie Hill said women found the sessions very informative and enjoyable.

"They were able to try out some physical activities to get a feel of what it would be like to undertake the firefighter role. I do hope that this will encourage more women and people from minority ethnic backgrounds to consider a career with the Fire Service.

"The firefighter job now encompasses a broad range of activities and there are many opportunities for career development and training for those that wish to do so."

More awareness days are due to be held in the New Year and anyone interested should contact Natalie Hill at Shrewsbury fire HQ on 01743 260236.

"Being a firefighter today is much more than just putting out fires. Community Fire Safety, educating schoolchildren, water rescues, first aid and learning how to use a wide range of sophisticated equipment is just part of the knowledge of a firefighter," said Chief Fire Officer Alan Taylor.

He urged more women and people from minority ethnic backgrounds to consider a career in the fire service.

Assistant Chief Fire Officer Louise McKenzie.

Louise McKenzie, Assistant Chief Officer said: "People attending these sessions have the opportunity to dispel some of the misconceptions about the role of a firefighter that still remain today. There are many career opportunities in the fire service and the possibility to undertake specialist roles."

16th December, 2008