Local fire departments see shortage of female firefighters

MGN Online
MGN Online

While fighting fires may not be a job for everyone, women at the Decatur Fire Department tell WAAY 31 they're certain they chose the right profession.

Posted: Oct 18, 2018 11:15 PM
Updated: Oct 19, 2018 2:58 PM

Fire departments across the Tennessee Valley are seeing low numbers when it comes to female firefighters.

In fact, one of the only departments in our area with women is Decatur, but they say they still have trouble recruiting women.

WAAY 31 spoke with a female on the force about why she chose the job and what advice she has for other women.

"For me, it was just great. I liked the physical job. I liked everything about it," said firefighter, Janice Johnson. "I had always worked physical jobs, so that was not an issue.”

If anyone knows firefighting, it’s Janice Johnson.

She’s been a member of the Decatur Fire Department team for almost 25 years now.

But in those years, Johnson says she’s worked with only seven other female firefighters.

“It’s hot, it’s hard, you get extremely tired at the end of a busy, busy day, tragedy, death—we see a lot of death," Johnson said.

She says that list may be what's keeping women from joining, but she says there’s so much more to make up for it.

“You get to meet a lot of people," she said. "You learn the crew that you’re working with. You become family because you’re with them 24 hours a day. You learn a lot of compassion for people. You see them at their worst and sometimes at their best.”

For any women who are skeptical, Johnson’s got a message.

"Just because it’s hard, you can still do it," she said. "If you like people and you like helping your community, it’d be a great job.”

Johnson says she hopes other women will consider joining the department’s team and submit an application.

Officials with the Athens Fire Department say they’re also seeing a shortage—but not just of women. They’re urging any and everyone to apply.

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