Hmmm... Sure seems like everyone is indeed being very polite and politically correct. During my career, I have worked with a number of female paramedics and firefighters and can offer my insight into women in the fire service, without reservation...
The standards for acceptance into the fire service are controlled by standardized physical agility testing. You can't cheat this, no bro deals, you either pass or don't pass. This means that whether it's a man or a woman, they both had to pass the same entrance test. Things can't get fairer than that.
I have yet to meet a woman who possessed the same physical strength as a male counterpart. So what...
The whole point of a good working engine company is making use of everyone's attributes and skills. We are all not 6'4" body builder tri-athletes. It would be nice but not realistic. We get things done by working as a team and having a female firefighter makes a well rounded team. And for those folks who use brute force to raise a ladder, or do other physical components of the job, be warned that when you do get older, your body will let you know that you should have done things smarter...
Females in some situations are more intuitive and can read things differently. As an engine company captain, getting input from my crew was paramount to making the best and most appropriate decision in some situations. I hate to generalize but women, in general... are more compassionate than males. It's biology... Women are nurturing and so forth because they are built to reproduce and raise children. Things like sense of smell, sound and again, "intuition" are all very real things that women have over men. And for you guys out there reading this, think about how many times your wife is right about something... To not take advantage of someone with a different set of senses is silly and does not maximize your engine companies capabilities to provided the best service possible.
With all of this being said, there is bad news for women in the fire service...
Women's involvement in the fire service is still a relatively new thing. Only time will tell, but statistical evidence regarding cancer development increases has been identified and is a very real concern. Women, again in general, have a higher body fat percentage. I don't mean around the hips or waistline, I'm talking places internally where fat is located such as the breasts, and in association with other internal organs such as the reproductive system.
Exposure to the affects of things that burn (pyrolysis) create 'products of decomposition' which includes organic vapors and mists, aldehydes, ketones, and a ton of other nasty things that enter your body by inhalation, ingestion or dermal absorption. Over time, or using the term 'bio-accumulation', these toxins enter your body and stay lodged in areas where you have fat, which has been proven to be one of the key causative factors toward different cancers.
You have to ask yourself, is it worth it? Women entering the fire service need to know that this is a very real hazard that can have some very serious consequences toward both longevity and reproduction capabilities... Interesting gamble to take...
There are female firefighters that are top notch, and some that are not. The same can be said of male firefighters. Some of my best friends are female firefighters. In fact, I've hired two....my two cents worth!
i believe Kacie is right on this one. at my department, VFD but a department none the less ha, we're blessed to have several women which i definitely believe we need for med calls. when we're all dressed in our bunker gear though, at first glance, how do you know the gender of the firefighter. i.e. short man instead of a woman? women are more meticulous by nature, which is also why they make better welders and surgeons than men do. like the rest of em said, if she wants to, let her.
Seriously, are people here just trying to get laid? Women are more meticulous? Say's who? And they make better welders and surgeons? I'd like to see that data. Don't get me wrong, I have no doubt there are excellent female surgeons and welders, but to make a blanket statement that females are better? Are there wives reading over you people's shoulders?
Now we not only have females that excel at welding and surgery, they are more intuitive (personally I challenge that, my intuition is seldom wrong.) and more compassionate. As to hearing and smell (alluded to by CBz) again I'd like to see the data. Yes, females can recognize their baby by smell (I've read that study) but are they better at detecting methane/propane or various burning smells? Females may hear better at different frequencies but are those frequencies significant on the fireground or only in studies?
The rate these comments and assumptions are piling up, we're going to have to start declaring all females as Goddesses and all men as baboons.
Or, we could quit with this mutual admiration crap and simply admit that if you meet and pass the qualifications and performance expectations of (and on) the job, you are a firefighter, in which case who gives a rat's ass which gender you are (if any, either or both).
And the problem with trying to get laid is.............?
Actually, Jack, there really isn't a whole lot of "mutual admiration" going on here. Men are pretty much just brutes who rely on strength alone to do the job. (Not smart enough to incorporate technique into lifting and prying and dragging and forcing). And gosh, women have all these other unique abilities!
And you're correct, in the final analysis, about meeting and passing qualifications for the job. Let's just hope those qualifications are rigorous and demanding - like actual firegrounds.
We should not judge women by size or shape if we can do it women can do it to. We have a woman on are department that will go into any house fire but her husband wont and he is a captain. All women should have the same right as men do in the fire sevice
Do yourself and your sex a favor: Don't extoll the virtues of female firefighters by comparing (actually, contrasting) them to cowardly male captains who won't go inside. (House fires, that is). I'm sure there are many capable female firefighters who would appreciate that.