Women can be firefighters alongside men

The Terrace B.C. Fire Department has one female firefighter, and she notes everyone offers valuable skills to the team.

One of two female firefighter applicants starts the obstacle course on the treadmill for three minutes in full gear.

Nine young people who hope to become firefighters here tackled an obstacle course of real-world tasks in their first training session.

Twelve or 13 people applied but only nine showed up for the interview, said Terrace fire chief John Klie.

Of the nine, two are women.

Four women applied last year and one stayed on, said Klie.

Caption: Stepheny Vossen from the Terrace Fire Department.

 

Stepheny Vossen is that one woman and she helped out at the obstacle course while the applicants took turns running it, and then ran it with the other regular firefighters afterward.

The course has to be done in 10 minutes and she said she clocked a better time than last year.

Vossen applied to join the fire department last year after a friend suggested it.

A shop teacher at Skeena Middle School, Vossen says being a volunteer firefighter is a nice change from her day job.

“It’s nice to challenge yourself in a different way, that’s why I like it. You’re always learning too,” she said.

She encourages women to apply, saying that everyone has skills to contribute.

“Guys are keen to go into fires. I’ll go in [to a building] but it’s not necessarily something I have to do,” she said.

“I can help out with organization, not everyone has those skills or wants to do those things.”

In this past year, she went to four or five fires – several happened close together.  “It was good. I enjoyed it. Everyone helps each other out,” she said.

When she’s done work, she can call the fire hall and have them put her on the board as available to be paged for a fire. That time of day, about 3:15-6 p.m., helps out the career staff who are finished work at 5 p.m.

“You put in whatever time you can,” she said.

Vossen is also a search and rescue volunteer.

Caption: Firefighter applicants get their blood pressure and oxygen saturation level checked before and after they run the obstacle course at their first night of training Feb. 28.

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