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Female office staff become firefighters for International Women’s Day

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Hampshire News | Female office staff become firefighters for International Women’s Day | Andover & VillagesA group of women have been put through their paces by Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service to mark International Women’s Day.

The nine participants carried out simulated ladder lifts, hose-running, equipment carrying, hose techniques and even a search wearing full breathing apparatus.

The group were joined by Hampshire Fire and Rescue Authority chairman Councillor Chris Carter who took part in the activities.

The women were all members of HFRS staff some of who are now considering applying to be on-call firefighters in their spare time while others wanted an insight into the challenges fire crews face.

Inclusion and Diversity Manager Leanne Illman was among the members of office staff those who took part in the event ahead of March 8.

She said: “The day was a great success and gave us all a greater insight into the incredible work our firefighters do every day.

“It is also important to raise awareness that women are perfectly capable of becoming firefighters and are increasingly doing just that.

“The day was a lot of fun but it is also about giving more women a taste of what firefighters do and making people realise they can overcome challenges they may not have previously thought possible.”

The half-day event saw the team dressed in full fire kit, lifting weights in the appliance bay and practicing running out hose reels and bring them back in on the drill yards.

Have a Go days are also being planned for members of the public to help boost diversity in the service.

Councillor Carter said: “The high calibre of our firefighters is well known - and this has been highlighted by their hard work in exceptional conditions during the past week.

"I was delighted to take part in the event. It was extremely challenging although just a taste of the rigorous training our crews go through. I think everyone found it rewarding and enjoyable.

"I hope the event will raise awareness that women really can consider pursuing a career as a firefighter - whether full-time or on-call."

Community Response Secretary Debbie Worley, Community Safety Officer Jane Sharples and Schools Fire Safety Instructor Carol Smith also took part along with Louise Ruffles, Zoe Robson, Fiona Sales and Ceri Webb from the Service Administration team.

Ms Sale, who is now hoping to become an on-call firefighter, said: “This was such a valuable insight into the challenges our crews face and it was inspiration to be coached by women who have already done it.

"The service is extremely encouraging and today's activities increased my confidence in applying to be an on-call firefighter. I would love to help the community and spread the message that women can be firefighters."

In addition to the participants those running the course on Tuesday (March 6) included Trainer Kerry Dodd and firefighters Julie Jacobs, Tara Mycroft and Jo Harrison, along with others. Trainer Dodd said: "The event has gone extremely well. The participants have done brilliantly and gained an insight into the training and the qualities we look for in our modern firefighters.

"The fire service is evolving and we want to be able to attract the best people from all walks of life, genders and ethnicity and bring their diverse range of skills to the drill yard."

Today (Thursday, March 8) women from the service are being offered self-defence classes by Academy Station Manager Jason Boh who is also an internationally renowned martial arts expert.