More Women Want To Be Firefighters'

Shropshire firefighters Ruth Walkerdine (left) and Kat Frost (right) with potential new recruits at the Craven Arms taster day for women. Front: Tracey Keene, Sylvie Harley and Sally Mawhinney. Back row, Elizabeth Dixon, Victoria Butt and Christine Rooney.
Shropshire firefighters Ruth Walkerdine (left) and Kat Frost (right) with potential new recruits at the Craven Arms taster day for women. Front: Tracey Keene, Sylvie Harley and Sally Mawhinney. Back row, Elizabeth Dixon, Victoria Butt and Christine Rooney.
3rd May, 2015

 

The number of women firefighters joining Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service is “slowly growing” with successful taster sessions being held across the county.

Over the Bank Holiday weekend, six women toured Craven Arms Fire Station where they met women firefighters, watched a ladder drill and learned about the role of on call firefighters serving at 23 county fire stations.

Out of 500 firefighters at Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service, 20 are women, with more waiting to complete the job related tests. Firefighter Kat Frost joined after attending a similar event last year.

It may still be just five percent of the total, but the numbers are “slowly growing” since Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service first introduced “taster” sessions just for women nine years ago, said organiser Laura Kavanagh-Jones.

With more women now realising that a firefighting career is for them, they have been turning up at the sessions organised by the brigade’s equality and diversity department.

“The taster sessions are very worthwhile. Women who attend say they now realise that joining the fire service is something that they can confidently apply for,” said Laura.

Elizabeth Dixon (25), a health and safety assistant at Capita in Ludlow, whose grandfather was a county firefighter, said: “I’ve wanted to join the fire service since I was 11.”

Victoria Butt, from Clun, said that she had wanted to apply before but had been working out of the county. But now that she is self employed and living nearer to her local fire station, it would be easier to apply.

Tracey Keene, who works at the Ludlow Co-op where other firefighters are also employed, said she saw it as a worthwhile career to help the local community.

Church Stretton leisure centre receptionist Sylvie Harley, who is a lifeguard, said she too wanted to work in the community.

Sally Mawhinney, also of Church Stretton, said that now she was retired it was the perfect opportunity with the time to commit to being a firefighter.

While Christine Rooney, from Clun, who is also retired, said: “I live near the fire station so this is a good opportunity to do something for my community.”

Firefighters must live or work within five minutes of their local fire station, be fit and reliable and be able to attend for duty for an agreed number of hours.

The next taster session for women will be held on September 12. The fire station venue will be announced nearer the date. For more information about the fire and rescue service visit www.shropshirefire.gov.uk or call Laura on 01743 260200.

You can follow your fire and rescue service on facebook and twitter for up to date information on firefighting in the county.

Sally Mawhinney (centre) holds cutting gear used to free people trapped in their vehicles with Tracey Keene (left) and Sylvie Harley (right)
In the driving seat: Elizabeth Dixon
Trying out the breathing apparatus is Victoria Butt

Stations: