Hi ladies. This is more for the fulltimers. We are working on recruiting female applicants. In the past, the department has had little success. Of course there are many variables and reasons behind this, such as no visibility of women on the department, belief that women are not accepted, or the job just not being on a woman's radar. If you have had success recruiting applicants to apply, what methods did you use, what was the reaction and what was the eventual result?

I come from a large department where the women represent less than 1%. The realization is that we will never hold a large percentage, but there are many women out there who would be great in this career, but are unaware it is available to them. We have had some major issues over the years, me included, from poor facilities to serious harassment to serious safety issues on scene. I have considered quitting already, as have most of the women. We are part of an old department when a lot of old school mentality and some real "cowboy" firefighters (no offense to actual cowboys), so retention can also be an issue (one did quit a couple of years ago after only 4 years of service).

Anyhow, any insight would be appreciated. Thanks ladies.

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I'm also from a large department and we have made a big effort to recruit more female firefighters this past year. I think you are correct when you say being a firefighter isn't on the radar screen for most women. One of our efforts is "Fire Camp" for high school age girls.

"Our mission with Camp Houston Fire is to encourage strong young women in Houston to seriously consider fire service as a career option by building confidence, encouraging teamwork, and eliminating stereotypes. Firefighting is a challenging but rewarding career, and we want the girls who attend the camp to go back to their homes and communities enthusiastic about this career possibility.” Our first fire camp will be next week, you can check out the following website for more info.


Another method of recruiting is using female firefighter faces on advertisements, to gain visibility. We have also talked about targeting college sports departments in search for women who may be interested in firefighting.

Hope this helps!
Recruitment of quality, hard working, no drama women... that's what what my recruitment poster would look like! :-)

One suggestion that a former department of mine just started was to attend college job fairs and militarty separation seminars. It seems women that were previously in the military all ready have a certain discipline and work ethic others take a little longer to learn, and know what it's like to work with a bunch of men on a 24 hour or longer basis. They got a few hits but the women couldn't pass our physical agility test. That and that there is an EEO case pending for making the women have the same hair standards as males... but that's another story.

Good on ya' for wanting to progress your department in a positive way and reaching out to other women who probably didn't even know being a part of the Brotherhood was an option. Good luck !!
Thanks ladies! We are going to be running a camp this summer as well, to get to a more grassroots approach to recruiting. Our recruitment poster now has two women on it and we are doing our best to "man" our community outreach booths with women and minorities.

I have been successful personally, in finding a dozen women who are going to apply, 8 of them had never considered it and 6 of them are likely going to make very strong candidates! Its so hard to know for sure if they will succeed and if they do, if they will be able to make a go at this job. I very nearly quit a couple of years ago after an incredibly tough situation, but reminding myself how much I love this job made me stay! Thank goodness.

Celeste, I may be in touch as we put the finishing touches on our camp syllabus and application form/package.

SRP, the same hair standards? I'm pretty sure you would hear me loud and clear fighting that one. As long as our hair is off our necks, aka, in a ponytail, it's all good. My hair is halfway down my back and has never been a problem, except for perhaps the picture of me in the paper with a virtual rat's nest on my head after a particularly harrowing fire! hah!
I did a lot of research on grooming standards and it turns out that nothing says the department is in the wrong in having a single standard. It doesn't help them with recruiting and retention. Hopefully with the proposal I wrote and the EEO case that is pending for another female about the subject, the department will rewrite the standard to differentiate men and women when it comes to grooming standards. We shall see.

Luckily the department I’m with now is open to suggestions when it comes to writing policy that directly involves us, i.e. Pregnancy policy, grooming standards…
It's really sad, isn't it, that fire departments are so far behind the times. Perhaps take a look at the Police standards and wording. I know here, the ladies have to wear their hair in a low ponytail or bun. There are men in my department who have or have had hair as long as mine, but as long as it is tied back and off the neck, it's fine. One standard overall. So I guess it goes both ways. I understand safety being an issue, but when it comes to hair, really only facial hair is a huge concern. I believe the short hair was more of an appearance standard.
I believe Markham Fire Department in Ontario has a standard regarding hair/jewelry, I'll see if I can find it.
I love the idea of fire camp! I wish that was around when I was a younger, rebelious, challenge-seeking, directionless teenager!

Good luck!
Hey there Kali!!

The goal of the camp, is to get the girls interested early, so they can prepare themselves, build the toughness and strength needed for the job and realize if they may not have what it takes! Our goal at the end of the week is to have these girls know one of two things;
1 - I could do this, I may have some work to do, but I could do this!
2 - There is no freaking way I could do this!
Either way, it is good to know early.

I agree, military is a good way to find ladies. We were brainstorming a while ago and one of the officers thought we should set up in Universities. I think it would be pretty tough to change someone's path while they are in university. many go to university while applying, etc, but recruiting in an area where they are already focused on their careers goals would be tough.

We're getting there, slowly but surely. Another couple ladies graduated. If we can find at least one or two really great candidates who score high enough for each class, that would be great. But it's a lot of work!
Hi All
I think there are a few issues here that are going unaddressed. Briefly:
Have you contacted Women In Fire? They were the source for the FA publications regarding women firefighters.
According to the statistics I have seen, less than 3% of career firefighters are female in the entire US...so you aren't all that far off the national mark!
I would also ask you to look at your own language choices; "ladies" instead of "women" etc are indicative of underlying attitudes that may be impacting your efforts.
Military job fairs are good. HS Explorer-type programs are useful for recruiting women or other minorities. Public Educators are the best resources in the schools for planting the seed of "Hey, I can aspire to this job!"
As to colleges/universities...down here in NC the FF I & II and other certification programs are administered by the community colleges... so maybe not a bad idea!
Ride-alongs show people what the job is about; what the cameraderie is... ( I hate to say "brotherhood" in this context, because we want "sisterhood" too!)
Anyway, that is my initial outpouring!
Hello Ladies! I have only recently become aware of this forum. To echo what Celeste started the inaugural Camp Houston Fire event was a success. We had 21 young ladies attend. Of that group 2 are beginning fire school at a local college this fall. We are a fairly large department and approximately 2.6% female. Our women are very giving of their time for various fundraisers, school visits, fun runs, adventure races and Camp Houston Fire. Sustaining this type of camp event is serious work. We just recently applied for and received 501(c)(3) status for Camp Houston Fire. In this time of budget crises across the country not even our department has deep enough pockets to sustain this outreach. However our ladies are still very committed to continuing on. If you are a certified FF and would like to volunteer some time for the second session of Camp Houston Fire we would like to hear from you! Seeing what these girls are capable of and seeing so many women firefighters in one place is truly amazing. Camp dates are December 3rd, 4th and 5th. If you would like additional information please email me at karen.dupont@houstontx.gov.


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