Firefighting may be viewed traditionally as a ‘man’s job’, but one team in Warrington is showing that gender is no barrier when it comes to pursuing your dream career.
Jo Collier, Ellie Ditchfield and Georgina Warner are all part of Warrington White Watch – a team based at the Winwick Road station which has the highest number of female firefighters on a single watch in Cheshire.
And to celebrate International Women’s Day, they want to let other budding female firefighters know that being a woman is neither a barrier nor a burden when it comes to joining the fire service and carrying out the role.
Watch Manager Jo Collier, who joined when she was aged 21, said: “I always wanted to join the emergency services, and about 15-years ago I joined as an on-call firefighter before becoming a wholetime firefighter in 2008.
“I’ve always liked helping people, and the great thing about being a firefighter is you don’t know what you’re going to be doing from one day to the next and you’re helping the community, so it’s very rewarding.
“What I would say to women thinking of joining is don’t write it off just because it’s mainly men. Pop into your local fire station and speak to the crews. We have a wide range of people working for the Service so you’ll be able to get more information on whether it’s the job for you.
“It’s a very rewarding career and we’ve got shifts that are part time so it’s very flexible if you have a young family at home.
“If you’re not quite sure what you want I would say on-call is definitely a route to try out.
International Women’s Day takes place on Sunday 8 March and this year’s focus is on making the world gender equal.
Firefighter Ellie Ditchfield joined the team in September 2019 after graduating from Cheshire’s apprenticeship scheme.
She said: “I’ve always had family members in the fire service so joining was always something I was interested in.
“I came straight out of college and joined through the apprenticeship scheme when I was 18, which is a two-year scheme.
“Through that you learn not just about operational stuff but also prevention, protection and charity. It is a really good route because you get to look at the wide range of things we offer as a service.
“Being part of a team on a watch is very enjoyable. When I started I was a bit apprehensive because I’m quite small and it’s quite a physically demanding job, but there’re things you can do and training you can put in place to make sure you’re strong enough, which is what I’ve done.
“So I would say don’t look past and think ‘I can’t be a firefighter’, give it a go.”
Firefighter Georgina Warner has been with Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service for nearly 10-years and originally joined on-call added: “I’ve been interested in being a firefighter ever since I was a kid. The challenge it brings and the teamwork involved always appealed to me.
“The thing I enjoy most is that you never get bored as a firefighter and no day is ever the same. Working as a close-knit team is also great.
“I would say to women thinking of joining to go to a station and speak to people, because when you do that you realise it is something that you can potentially do and you might find that it is the career for you.”
- To find out more about becoming a firefighter in Cheshire, visit the jobs section on the Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service website.
For more information please visit: www.cheshirefire.gov.uk