Women suited up in firefighter gear take part in the second annual Women On Fire event, hosted by Tecumseh Fire, Saturday, June 29, 2019. The female only recruitment training opportunity aims to get more females into emergency responder organizations.
Dax Melmer / Windsor Star
Temperatures upwards of 30 C didn’t stop more than 100 women from bringing the heat and powering through intense physical challenges at the Women on Fire event Saturday.Tecumseh Fire and Rescue Services hosted the second annual Women on Fire event at Tecumseh Fire station 2 on Walker Road throughout the day Saturday to encourage women to consider pursuing careers in emergency and border services.“What we’re trying to do today is show them what the physical requirements are so that they’ll be successful when they do actually go try out,” said Tecumseh Fire volunteer firefighter and one of the event organizers Donna Desantis. “We find with women it’s the physical testing that’s typically their downfall when they actually get to the testing. And it’s really just a matter of exposure.”Participants worked through a variety of physical challenges for either Fire, Police, Canada Border Services Agency, Emergency Medical Services, or Canadian Armed Forces. Each offered a two-hour physical test geared toward the organization’s specific requirements.Challenges included police and CBSA prep tests, practical and physical displays from EMS, a course from the Canadian Armed Forces, and a number of fire and rescue activities including a four-storey stair tower participants climbed while carrying a 42 lbs hose.
Lauren Beattie, 26, climbs through a tunnel suited up in firefighter gear during the second annual Women On Fire event, hosted by Tecumseh Fire, Saturday, June 29, 2019. The female only recruitment training opportunity aims to get more females into emergency responder organizations.
Dax Melmer /
“It’s not really easily replicated in the gym but if you can get exposed to it here, you can practice,” Desantis said. “You can either learn where your weaknesses are or get a better grip on how to do the actual test.”Fitness appraisers were on hand to answer questions and demonstrate skills. Along with exposing women to the physical testing requirements of each organization, potential recruits were able to ask questions about the application process and any academic requirements.Desantis said women are under-represented across most emergency services except for CBSA which has nearly 50 per cent women, and EMS which also has 50 per cent if not higher, while Fire is at the lowest end with only 2.5 per cent women represented.Related
Desantis said it’s important for emergency services to diversify in order to better serve their communities.“We’re all public service, fire, police, EMS, we serve the public, we serve our communities, and it’s important for serving the community to be able to relate to the community,” Desantis said. “The more diverse your department is the better connections you’re making with your community members and the better service you’ll be able to provide.”Desantis is the only female at her station and said she brings a different dynamic. She said women can offer another level of compassion, but diversifying the workplace is important to add unique components to the table.“We all have something to offer and it really brings the department together when you have these different unique personalities,” Desantis said.One of the participants, Wendy Maceachern was encouraged to try the event by her husband Ryan Maceachern, a Tecumseh firefighter. She had already completed two parts of her challenge and said she was ready for what was ahead.“Just to try to be better and to say that I can do it,” she said about why she decided to come out, “I think that the next recruit I’m going to possibly try out.”firstname.lastname@example.org