Silver Fox, I have seen some women firefighters who would put many men under the table. I would stand next to a women and fight fire any day. Only issue I have is women who feel they have something to prove or want to be treated different. Respect is earned. Get out there an earn it an you'll be respected in my book.
The days when there were any distinctions between men and women are long gone. Any woman is now welcome to stand side by side as a sister with any brother in my book. Just like any member in the department the bad ones sort themselves out and move on
I believe that if a woman can do the job and wants to be good at the job, she deserves an equal opportunity. I have worked with some women who love the job and work hard at being the best they possibly can. I would take them over most men.
Women can make great firefighters. They can also make terrible ones, just like men. I find women tend to have less physical strength than men, so they need to use their heads more and rely less on brute force. Fortunately women aren't poisoned with testosterone, so they can do this! I like to say to our female rookies: "you need to be twice as smart as the men, but that's not very hard to do."