Now that more and more women are entering the fire service, officers are scratching their heads on how to handle new situations that are arising around the firehouse! One fire department decided to give the female firefighters their own room with a locking door and their own bathroom and shower. Another fire department felt that separating male and female firefighters was segregation, so they all sleep in the same room with a curtain for privacy and take turns using the shower. Some male firefighters feel that giving females private rooms and bathrooms is being bias and giving special treatment. I could care less either way, but for those guys use to walking around in their boxers and God forbid naked(we all have that one crazy nudist in our dept), it might pose a problem! Should male and female firefighters be separated in the firehouse?
I am not saying I would mind having my own shower, because that is nice as well, and you are right sometimes people do violate the trust. However, in my opinion, if someone of less than high integrity is working at the station, and they have their own room, that brings about more trouble, no matter what sex they are. A private room just provides them with more privacy to do what they want with. Again though, if a person can't be trusted to act in a respectable fashion then they should not be working there. This then turns into a hiring process issue.
We have eight guys and me at station one right now, and I sleep with six of them in one room. The Batt Chief and Sr. Capt get their own room. At other departments we have all had our own rooms. Neither situation has caused issues, but that is because we are all of good character.
Now, if we look at it from a different angle, and what comes into play more often than anything, is what the spouses think of the sleeping arrangements. I have had several insecure wives freak out when they meet me because they do not know what sort of person I am. I suppose the only thing that matters to me is that hiring processes are not affected by what someone assumes may be a potential problem purely based on a person's looks or sex.
In a previous life, I worked a fire department EMS division where the medic units had separate bunkrooms from the engine companies. I had a female partner for about a year. My wife is far from the insecure type, but she's inquisitive. She made sure to meet my parner, and they became friends. I had no secrets, either at home or at work, for the entire time.
That was after some of the males I previously worked with had wives who created lots of stress because they didn't want hubby working with a female. My wife knew some of the other wives, and she told them "If you can't trust your husband with a female partner at work, then your marriage has a lot bigger problems than the other firefighters at your husband's station."
I always knew that I married a very intelligent woman.
A wise man once said "Predictable is Preventable." I agree with damnthings' opinion. Just remove the opportunity. If you get rid of any temptation to do anything, you don't have to worry so much about law suits. I guess it goes back to be professional and curtious.
I don't really see the big issue in a female bathroom and shower. If you go to any other public building, campground, park recreation restroom, etc., there are usually a men and a women's bathroom. At my station, which is old, there is only one shower which happens to be in the mens bathroom so everyone just takes their turn. But it would be nice to have a shower, not even for just women, but for everyone in general. As for giving women their own bathroom being special treatment, what is the difference with guys having one and women having one? I don't know, I just don't see it being such a huge biased issue. It is just a dang bathroom. I don't want to smell your destruction to the bathroom after dinner, and you don't want to see my time of the month lady items. WIN WIN situation to me! =P
In interesting topic that has certainly been viewed as beating a dead horse. I am a member of a volunteer fire department, we do not have seperate bunk rooms for men and women, though our membership does respect each others privacy. It involves communication and of course common courtesy. If you're going to sleep in then you best have something on otherwise the crazy nudist will find themselves out the door.
The ladies do not have a all female shower room though we do not have very many female volunteers either. We do have a shower room that if the ladies need to take a shower then we take turns and the males are very protective of the few female fire fighters/EMT's we do have.
I know some may say that we could be setting ourselves up for a lawsuit but if you're a female you're given plenty of warning in advance of our limited facilities.