Fire doesn’t discriminate and neither do we

26 May
Our wonderful firefighters working to raise funds for a fellow firefighters sick child

Our wonderful firefighters (female and male) working to raise funds for a fellow firefighter’s sick child on Saturday.

 

Please read the following article that was written today. There is an imbalance in the numbers of males and females in the firefighting industry but to assume this is because we promote a culture of sexism and discrimination is simply not true.

http://www.smh.com.au/act-news/act-government-launches-campaign-to-attract-more-female-firefighters-to-counter-sexism-20140525-zrnpn.html

My response to the editor:

I am a Senior Fire Fighter in the ACT and I am extremely upset at the article that you published today. I have been in the fire service for 8 years and I have enjoyed and participated in a fair, equitable and discriminatory free workplace. The heading of this article suggest that there is a culture of sexism in the fire service. This is not true. Any sexism or discrimination directed at any individual is simply not tolerated. We experience the same issues all workplaces must deal with and I can assure you that fairness, equity, understanding and respect is constantly maintained.

We all are fire fighters. We don’t see each other as anything else. Due to our stringent cognitive, psychological and physical standards all firefighters and recruits possess a high level of professionalism that ensures we are capable of fulfilling the requirements of the job.  Knowing the person next to us  is more than capable of fulfilling their duties provides us  safety and reassurance when entering a dangerous environment.

Fire doesn’t discriminate. A fire will burn you no matter what gender or colour you are and that is why we all protect each other without prejudice. We have inherent trust in each other. We have to, because without it there is a greater risk of injury or even death. When you have to trust someone with your life then it is almost impossible to not have an understanding and inherent respect for who they are. This is where the respect for race, religion, sex and creed is developed and fostered.

This is why the inference that we are sexist in ACT Fire Rescue not only offends me it offends my fellow firefighters. It sets out to create a divide between male and female firefighters, a divide that simply doesn’t exist. I have been led by female firefighters through many dangerous circumstances. Gender was never a factor. Their mentoring was a huge influence on my development as a firefighter.

We are in a unique industry that is more like a family and to make false accusations about my brothers and sisters is unacceptable. To quote a report on which the findings have not been released yet is a little remiss.  As a media outlet shouldn’t you be more worried as to why the findings are being withheld. The union and firefighters encourage the release of the Haggar report. If there was a culture of sexism wouldn’t we be the ones wanting to prevent the release of this information?

In regards to increasing the amount of woman in the ACT Fire and Rescue: I think it is brilliant. Campaigns to attract greater numbers of woman should be encouraged and is supported by firefighters. The more firefighters employed the better. The ACT community will benefit as will all current firefighters.  But as the title of the Article suggests, the recruitment of woman shouldn’t be to negate sexism, you should want to recruit woman because they a strong, smart and capable human beings that would bolster and compliment the already great service the ACT Fire and Rescue provides.

In future recruitment campaigns it is imperative that the testing requirements remain the same. These are standards that must be met to become a firefighter to ensure personal safety and the safety of their crew. This is paramount in a workplace that poses a huge amount of risk. The current tests are difficult but not beyond the capabilities of any gender. Therefore to avoid any discrimination recruit colleges should be open to all genders and that way we will achieve the whole purpose of recruitment. To get the most capable person for the job.

 

Thank you

 

 

3 Responses to “Fire doesn’t discriminate and neither do we”

  1. Gina Kikos May 26, 2014 at 7:38 am #

    I sent a reply to the Canberra Times editor today… will see if it gets printed tomorrow. I wrote it on behalf of us… female firefighters… in ACT Fire & Rescue:

    This report paints a bleak picture of the men in ACT Fire & Rescue and we are offended by it. What woman in her right mind would want to apply after reading it?!

    Our experience as Firefighters (as far back as 1992) has not uncovered this reported mindset – sexism, bullying and misogyny. Yes there have been a couple of incidents that have been dealt with appropriately which shows we are reflective of the community. We work with helpful and supportive men who are part of our “family”. Respect is earned through an appropriate selection process (including strenuous physical test). This demonstrates the capability of being an equal member of a team, who is trusted and shares the camaraderie.

    We agree that the number of females is low (but similar to the rest of the world). All of us have passed the selection process and become valuable members of the team. For years we have recommended targeted campaigning to attract more women to apply – if more apply and have time to prepare then more will pass. But this requires extra funding (now offered by ACT Govt) and enough lead time for candidates to prepare. The problem isn’t the men… it’s the work. Not everyone is suited to working on roofs, confined spaces, dark-hot-smoky environments, handle heavy tools to cut casualties out of mangled cars or dangle from a rope to perform vertical rescue. But the ones who brave the selection process find the work very rewarding and become a valuable member of the team. The selection process and training is based on merit and ensures the safety of all Firefighters and the community.

    As mentioned by the Minister the fitness tests at recruitment aren’t repeated during our career… but we conduct training, drills, and attend incidents where our fitness is important to complete the job. Firefighters generally maintain their fitness because we are committed to the safety of our team and the community and want to avoid injury. How many other careers require the same entry test to be repeatedly conducted throughout their career?

  2. Marklington Parasoot June 23, 2014 at 11:39 pm #

    Well said Johnson. If i am going to be picky though, you should have dropped the “you” in thank you”.

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