Group of female firefighters reveal some of the everyday comments they receive

A group of female firefighters have revealed some of the everyday comments they receive including: ''you can't do that - you'll ruin your face''.

The female blaze tacklers have spoken out about fighting misconceptions over their roles in the hope it might encourage others to join the service.

Most are the only women at their stations - which can bring its own unique challenges.

Katherine Shaw, 26, signed up to work on-call last year - meaning she has to be ready to go for 84 hours a week.

She loves the job and said she has never struggled with prejudice from colleagues - but has received a few comments from members of the public.

She said: "Within the service it's such old news that girls are part of it."

"We're not really like male and female - we're just people that are interested in saving lives and helping the community."

"It's more shock from the public - you tell somebody you're in training and what you've done."

"They struggle with what to call you. It's usually 'fireman, oh, ooh, err...'. It really doesn't matter - anything."

"It's shock like, 'oh you can't do that, how do you do all that lifting and manage that physical stuff.'"

"I was in a church doing a memorial service. This woman I'd never met before was like 'oh you're the first female we've had - that's amazing!'"

"Another said: 'You're a firefighter? You can't do that - you'll ruin your face!'"

"It shouldn't stop anybody - they don't mean it with any malice. They just can't believe it."

"People are shocked because they haven't been exposed to it. That might be wrong, but that's my opinion."

"Growing up, cartoons, movies and books - everything you are exposed to - it's the women that needed helping and the men who needed to fix it."

"Now, there's loads of stuff out that's showing that girls can be empowered too - they can help themselves."

"I think in ten years, children who grow up will be more open to the role."

Katherine is a firefighter at Blagdon Fire Station in North Somerset, where she is the first and only woman.

She also works as a sports therapist and at nearby Bristol Airport.

Asked how she got into the job, she said: "I never even considered it. I was backpacking, then I came back and did physio for a rugby team."

"I was just having a conversation with a friend who was a firefighter - I said there was elements to my job I wasn't loving. He said: 'Well, what about being a firefighter?'. You're still part of a team, you're active."

"I don't like heights so I thought not - it sounded a bit scary. I'd probably cry if somebody came and shouted at me."

"But the next day I saw on advert on Facebook. I'm not really into fate but I thought it was meant to be."

"I had nothing to lose so gave it a go and applied, just to see how it went. The further along the process I went, the more I realised that it was what I wanted to do."

"I've always been in a sports background - I've always been quite disciplined. It's really easy to work things out with your hours."

Jade Alexander, 30, is based at Portishead Fire Station, in North Somerset. She joined up a month ago - also as the first woman.

She combines her contract with work as a personal trainer.

She said: "I'm the only woman there, but it doesn't feel like that."

"In the fire service, it's obvious there needs to be a change. It's quite sad that women joining up is still a big story in 2019."

"One of the major things is that we're not visible because there's not as many of us, so younger girls don't know it's an option for them."

"I think it's still seen as a bit of boy's club. The more visible we can be, the more likely it is that we can change things."

"The job doesn't feel like a huge commitment. You just need to be a bit more aware of what you're doing."

Michelle Crossman, 47, joined Yatton Fire Station in North Somerset nearly ten years ago.

She said: "It really was quite prejudiced back in the 90s - purely because of social attitudes back then. It was quite old-fashioned."

"But attitudes have changed tremendously in the last ten years."

"Nowadays people are trying to recruit more females. One of the guys I joined up with has moved stations - he said he really misses women, as he hasn't got any there at all."

"We get a different perspective [with women] - dare I say it his might be too testosterone-y there!""

"I do know there are people that have had troubles. You always get the odd bit of banter but I think it's how you handle it as a person."

"But, since joining this station, I can't think of any incidents at all."

"Avon Fire & Rescue Service is currently recruiting across its stations - for both men and women.

On-call firefighters can also earn more than £3,000 a year by offering full cover alongside their family and work life.

They need to live or work within five minutes travelling distance of their station during their hours of declared availability.

Read Full Story

FROM OUR PARTNERS