GROVELAND (CBS) – At the Groveland Fire Department, five women are now on the job as firefighters and women now make up nearly 20 percent of the force.
Nationwide the average is only about 3.5 percent.
For these firefighters, gender doesn’t matter. It’s the mission that counts. They bring different backgrounds to the fire department, but have one thing in common.
“I really wanted to help the community,” said firefighter Lisa Evans, the veteran of the group.
She served six years in the nearby West Newbury Fire Department. The four others are about to enter the fire academy for their final training.
“I’m pushing myself to a different limit. I wanted to challenge myself and this is a challenge both physically and mentally,” firefighter Alyssa Bosch said.
There have been other women in the Groveland Fire Department, but this really breaks the glass ceiling.
“The community that we serve is made up of men and women, probably in equal parts. When your department is 95 or 100 percent male, it just didn’t make a lot of sense,” said Groveland Fire Chief Robert Lay.
“I was the only woman for a year,” added firefighter Jennifer Hicks.
Soon after she was hired, Hicks was injured. So while recovering she earned her EMT certification. Now she’s on the job.
“I want somebody who’s passionate about it running in after my kids, and I’m passionate about it. And I’m going to go in after your kids,” she says.
They’ve heard the arguments that “men are stronger” and “it’s a dangerous job.” But being a woman can be an advantage.
“I’m the lighter, smaller one who can fit through that bathroom window that just happened to be unlocked,” says firefighter Evans.
“Going in as a female in an all-male department, it can be a little nerve racking. The five of us, I hope that we show that you can be male, female, it doesn’t matter. Anyone can go and do this job,” adds firefighter Bosch.
Even though Groveland firefighters are a paid, professional force, they’re referred to as “call” firefighters.
That means they don’t staff the town’s two firehouses. Rather they’re “called” to report in. So on top of all the training they do, they also have to be ready to drop everything and answer that call.