Friday, April 22, 2016

Firemen…er, Fire People…er, What Do You Call them Nowadays?

As a woman in the fire service, I heard all sorts of things as people attempted to reconcile the traditional term “fireman” with the female in bunker gear standing before them: Firewoman. Fire girl. Fire person. My mom jokingly referred to me as a “fire chick” and a guy I once worked with tagged me as “fire babe.” (Not quite “politically correct,” but it was always said in friendly jest.)

So what do you call women who fight fires?

Firefighters.

Pretty simple, isn’t it? And yet in the 21st century, when women work as astronauts, surgeons, engineers, police officers, combat soldiers and more, some in our society still feel the need to apply gender labels. This is something that has always baffled me. If two people undergo the same training and are doing the same job, why does it matter if that person is a man or a woman?

In March, a reporter from our local Fox affiliate interviewed Rachael Staebell, who is a firefighter/paramedic with the Colorado Springs Fire Department. Staebell hit the nail on the head when she said that the only time gender plays a role in the fire station “is when we’re using the restrooms…Fire certainly doesn’t care if I’m a woman or a man.”


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