Female firefighter: ‘Don’t be afraid to infiltrate the male-dominated professions’

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Women should not be scared to position themselves in sectors where men usually dominate.

Those strong words came from the officer-in-charge of the Diamond Fire Station, Station Officer Russel Leander during a drill exercise at the Ministry of Home Affairs to mark International Women’s Day 2022 on Tuesday.

The drill was completed by a team of women from the Guyana Fire Service and the Emergency Medical Technician Service to get a first-hand view of how the officers respond to a distress call.

Station Officer Leander has been in the profession for 26 years and for her, it was not without challenges but it did not deter her dream of being a firefighter.

“At first, they said that the job was more men-oriented so as a woman, you had to prove yourself and despite how challenging it was, we as women continue to show that we can do what the men can do and even do it better,” she shared.

Scenes from the drill exercise (Photo: News Room/ March 8, 2022)

And over the years, Station Officer Leander said that there has been an increase in the number of women joining the profession “proving that we have a place in the Guyana Fire Service.”

“It is challenging but we can make it, we have proven that we can break barriers so you should not be afraid to infiltrate the professions that have a lot of men, women are needed all over so go after it,” she urged.

Dianne Gill, also a firefighter, said that men should not be afraid of women entering the profession as well. For her, women are there to “work along with the men” as they all strive for one common goal – the safety and well-being of citizens.

“There are some equipment that women cannot fetch and need to be repaired so we need the men, we are here to work with them,” she said.

Officer-in-charge of the Diamon Fire Station, Station Officer Russel Leander (Photo: News Room/ March 8, 2022)

Meanwhile, Fire Chief (ag) Gregory Wickham saluted the women on the team.

“They have always been going out there, handling emergencies and setting the bar high, so high that us men find it difficult to keep on top.

“We support our women and today’s exercise was to show off what the women of the Guyana Fire Service can do, we want to exhibit the talents of our women,” he stated.

His sentiments were echoed by the Minister of Home Affairs Robeson Benn who was also present.

Minister of Home Affairs, Robeson Benn (Photo: News Room/ March 8, 2022)

He shared that men should be the support system for women and allow women to take their rightful place in society as it evolves.

The theme for IWD 2022 – #BreakTheBias focuses heavily on women’s equality and the creation of a world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination, and a world where difference is valued and celebrated.

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