Gender equality has been a long and winding yellow brick road for many women in the fire service. They work hard, train hard, and study hard, but no matter how many times they click their heels and wish for a fighting chance, progress has been painfully slow.

Is progress being made? If the ladies I meet at FDIC and other events are any indication, I’d say yes. I’m not saying that everything is magical and rosy in every department, but progress has been made – despite the ol’ boy network of flying monkeys.

Metaphorically speaking, the Wizard of Oz theme is the perfect vehicle for this commentary. Among other things, a lack of heart, brains and courage have been some of the knuckle-dragging complaints by men who see women only for their… shall we say, more gender specific qualifications. That women have no place on the fire ground, whether on the rig or in the command vehicle, is just ridiculous – and Neanderthal thinking!

As was said about Molly Williams, the first recorded female fire fighter in U.S. history, “(she’s) as good a fire laddie as many of the boys”.  I say, “You Go, Girls!”


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