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Want a rewarding, risky, exciting career?

 April 30, 2013

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Working in fire and emergency services can be such a rewarding career suitable to both men and women, yet it is often not considered by females.

My name is Susan Tamme and I am a Captain with the Tampa Fire Rescue Department in Florida.  I have been a fire fighter for over 20 years! And I am one of 65 women on my department out of 640 firefighters.

I am a member and a trustee of a woman’s’ firefighting organization called International Association of Women in Fire and Emergency Services (iWomen) which was created because this is a career that does not employ or attract many women. We formed the organization to represent women’s issues in the workplace and to network and bond with other women firefighters across the country.

I know what you are thinking, what would make you become a firefighter?

There is NO set reason or type of person drawn to the profession of firefighting.  Some choose firefighting because they have a relative who was in the fire service. A friend of mine became a firefighter after working in an office job and didn’t like the ho-hum nature of the work - they wanted something more exciting. Another friend became a firefighter after a local fire crew responded to a family member during an emergency and they wanted to give back in the same way. And a co-worker chose firefighting because of the athletic nature of the work. Some even choose firefighting because of the flexible hours of the work schedule.

My choice was simple - I became a firefighter because I love helping others and I have a knack for remaining calm in stressful situations. 

Firefighting began primarily to extinguish hazardous fires that threaten people and property and to rescue victims from dangerous incidents, such as collapsed and burning buildings. Today however, we have the “Fire Service” which encompasses many opportunities:

- Suppression (Firefighter, Driver Engineer, Captain, Chief)
- Prevention (Inspector, Investigator)
- Education (Public Education Specialist, Public Information Officer)
- Emergency Responder (Paramedic/EMT)
- Hazardous Material Technician
- Urban Search and Rescue
- Tactical Medical Response Teams

Susan Tamme is a Captain with the Tampa Fire Rescue Department in Florida, US. Susan has held an impressive and enjoyable career of almost 20 years with the Fire Department. Susan is passionate about getting more women and girls to consider an exciting and rewarding career in the fire service globally.
Check out the excellent International Association of Women in Fire and Emergency Services website. Women in the fire service date back into the 1800's as members of volunteer fire brigades. Women made their way into the ranks of seasonal wildland firefighters in the early 1970's and the first female career firefighter was hired in 1974. Today some 6,200 women in the U.S. work as career firefighters and officers with perhaps 40,000 in the volunteer, paid-on-call, part-time and seasonal sectors.

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Disclosure: Where Women Work researches and publishes insightful evidence about how its paid member organizations support women's equality.

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