Saturday, October 9, 2010

on being a woman

On the job, I've had my share of ups and downs. Because as a woman, even though I passed each and every test same as the next guy, I still had to prove myself... ten times over. I remember as a rookie feeling humiliated because my Captain made me don full bunker gear and breathing apparatus and then made me drag his 250 pound arse around the station to prove that I could get him out of a fire if necessary. Instead of protesting, I did it while the rest of the crew watched. He didn't make anyone else do it... but whatever... I did it even though I had already just passed my physical to get on the job. I am pretty sure he broke some labour laws in asking me to do that but unfortunately stuff like this happens. And you don't want to be the one to lodge a complaint because then you get labeled the trouble maker. Same Captain used to ask me to make him tea and bring it to him wherever he happened to be in station. It can be tough being female in the fire service because you're an anomaly, a curiosity, because you have breasts. And many will test you simply because you're not a dude until you've proved yourself and then just become one of the guys. It may happen at a big call where you've done something superhuman or heroic.... or it may happen over the course of time. For me, it happened when I stopped giving a crap what the guys thought of me. And if someone pushed, I shoved back. Now that the years have gone by, I have to say I really like being different and I don't mind standing out in the sea of blue. It's a privilege and not a curse being a woman in the fire service. Looking back, if I had to prove myself again, I would do it in a heart beat, because those guys who treated me unfairly just made me an emotionally stronger, and more determined person and a better firefighter. The irony is that in them trying to break me down, they actually built me up. They gave me a big gift in disguise and I think without them I wouldn't have the appreciation of where I came from and who I've become...


  1. I'm not sure if you watch "How I met your mother". But, anyways, there is this character "Barney Stinson" played by Neil Patrick Harris (aka Dougie Howser). In his office, right behind his seat, there are some motivational posters. There's one called "Awesomeness", and you should be in there.


  2. I'm glad I found your blog because I'm a fellow female Canadian trying to get into the fire service myself.