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‘Girls on Fire’ Event Encourages Women to Join Springfield Firefighters

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City of Springfield Fire
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Springfield Firefighters are encouraging women to join its ranks during an event this weekend. This is the second year for ‘Girls on Fire,’ which officials say has helped the department receive the highest number of applications from women in its history. That’s according to Cara Erwin, fire and life safety educator for the department.

“Currently we have about 220 employees and of those we have two female firefighters, one female battalion chief, and then several females on our administrative staff.”

The Girls on Fire event, located at the Springfield regional Police/Fire training center, is aimed to dispelling the myths of gender role jobs.

“We just want women to know that there is a place for them in the fire service. It’s a fabulous career whether you’re male or female. Women tend to bring a certain set of characteristics that can be especially beneficial in the fire service; they’re compassionate, excellent with people. We just don’t want them to feel as though they’re excluded.”

Common misconceptions, such as woman are not strong enough, may deter them from joining. The department’s standards are not influenced when it comes to gender and women are expected to do the same job duties as their male counterparts.  Although upper body strength may be something that women firefighters have to work harder to achieve, it shouldn’t act as a barrier to a career with many other facets.

Erwin urges people to keep in mind that firefighters do more than fight fire all day.

“The thing about it is, firefighting is only one part of the job. 80 percent of the time they’re going to be out on medical calls. They’ll be working with people to make sure they’re comfortable in very uncomfortable situations, they’ll be out on car accidents, and they will be training. They’ll be doing lots of other things besides firefighting.”

All Springfield residents over 18 are encouraged to attend and participate in hands-on activities that preview the life of a firefighter. Those interested in joining will receive interview and resume advice as well as the opportunity to learn firefighting techniques.

This is a free event, and the first 50 that register will receive a t-shirt. All who register will be entered to win a prize. It takes place from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Saturday at the Springfield Regional Police/Fire Training Center, 2620 W. Battlefield.

For more information, visit the Springfield Fire Department website.