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Gender equality has been a long and winding yellow brick road for many women in the fire service. They work hard, train hard, and study hard, but no matter how many times they click their heels and wish for a fighting chance, progress has been painfully slow.

Is progress being made? If the ladies I meet at FDIC and other events are any indication, I’d say yes. I’m not saying that everything is magical and rosy in every department, but progress has been made – despite the ol’ boy network of flying monkeys.

Metaphorically speaking, the Wizard of Oz theme is the perfect vehicle for this commentary. Among other things, a lack of heart, brains and courage have been some of the knuckle-dragging complaints by men who see women only for their… shall we say, more gender specific qualifications. That women have no place on the fire ground, whether on the rig or in the command vehicle, is just ridiculous – and Neanderthal thinking!

As was said about Molly Williams, the first recorded female fire fighter in U.S. history, “(she’s) as good a fire laddie as many of the boys”.  I say, “You Go, Girls!”


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Comment by Paul Combs on March 15, 2012 at 7:50am

Thanks for weighing in, Everyone - I appreciate your comments!

Comment by John K. Murphy on March 11, 2012 at 9:22pm

Spot on illustration about women’s struggles in our fire service. Some of the examples of hostility and bias will chill your sense of equality. You would not allow those affronts to happen to your mother or sister or daughter at home, then why allow that at your "home" at the fire station. This industry needs to take the lead on equality and it's not that difficult. We need to get out of the mindset that only "men" can do this job. How wrong is that?

Comment by Cristian Guzman on March 10, 2012 at 9:51pm

Great illustration. I'm very proud to say that I've worked side by side with the womens of my firehouse, and they have proved time and time again, that they deserve a place on the fire ground.

Comment by Stephanie McKinley on March 9, 2012 at 12:24pm

I ABSOLUTELY agree that being a female firefighter doesn't mean you have to give up your femininity.  So I wear makeup and paint my nails...but I'm fully willing to trash all of that to do what needs to be done!  P.S. Thanks for your post my dear ;~)

Comment by Sam Bradley on March 9, 2012 at 12:02am

Bobby, let me know if you do get out this way!

Comment by Sam Bradley on March 9, 2012 at 12:01am

Paul, I love your last comment, but trying to be pretty in a set of turnouts is darned near impossible!

Comment by John Hart on March 8, 2012 at 11:34pm

I appreciate your statements Paul, and as a husband of a career FF/Paramedic who appears as Mrs. September in the 2012 America's Female Firefighter Calendar I especially appreciate your additional comments!

Comment by Sam Bradley on March 8, 2012 at 6:34pm

Thanks  for posting this. As a female medic that started in the early 80's, I appreciate how things have changed. Thanks for the acknowledgment. Bobby, you rock! We miss you out here in the Bay Area.

Comment by Paul Combs on March 8, 2012 at 4:22pm

Oh, and before someone makes the comment about women posing for firefighter calendars or wearing make-up at the firehouse, let me say:  Women have every right to be proud and look beautiful without being subject to stereotyping and degradation by their male (and female) colleagues.

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