Everyday I am meeting more and more women who are applying to become firefighters. They are intelligent and well-read women who are choosing a blue-collar career. That says something amazing about this job. Although we are not performing brain surgery, we do need to think quickly and react within seconds to a crisis. Managing water flow off the tower as a ladder operator does require skills of a mathematician and a touch that is both delicate and tough. I think women have an innate sense of balancing both sides. When I was hired, there were less than ten women in a department of close to seven hundred. Now we are close to two dozen so it's nice to see the sisterhood growing. :)
I still find the physical and mental aspect of the job challenging every day. Especially as I get older lol... the body doesn't respond the way it used to. And mentally, some of the stuff you see can haunt you for life. I know some guys with post traumatic stress disorder that ended their careers. :( Perhaps because we are women, and letting our feelings show is more accepted makes us more immune. I'm not sure though... these disorders tend to build up over time and what you saw or experienced 10 or 20 years ago may resurface. Some experiences can be pretty grisly. I turn 40 next month and hope to put in at least another 15 years in this career. I will stay on the job as long as I can perform it as effectively as I can today. The stats aren't out yet since women haven't been in the fire business that long yet but I have a sense that our careers might be shorter lived simply due to the nature of our physiology, menopause and all those lovely things. I hope I'm wrong though. I find that I have never been more tired in my life now that I am a mom but these are the challenges that make me tougher I guess. It's been 9 years on the job and although I feel stronger it takes me longer to recover.
I love it when gals get hired. It brings a different vibe to the crew. My crew is amazing and are very accepting of me. We are like family and I love them to bits and we would give each others lives to each other both on and off the job. We all have our strengths and weaknesses and as a group gel nicely and not a day at work goes by without us laughing our heads off. I'm one of the lucky ones. Some of the dinosaurs out there hate working with women and can make life a living hell.
Enjoy the process ladies. The beauty is in the journey and it's one helluva ride :)