Women in Fire and Emergency NZ are celebrating International Women’s Day today around the country with collaborative events alongside NZ Police and St John Ambulance.
The celebrations, held in Hawke’s Bay, Taranaki, Palmerston North and other locations, will see a collection of volunteer, urban and rural female firefighters coming together with other emergency services to encourage people to achieve #BalanceforBetter.
At the same time, Fire and Emergency’s trial bootcamp to help new recruits pass the fitness test draws to a close, with women making up the majority of the attendants.
Fire and Emergency Recruitment Manager Rochelle Martin hopes the bootcamps would provide a way for more diversity to be brought to Fire and Emergency. Last year a recruitment round saw more women than ever applying to be career firefighters.
"We’ve been broadening our recruitment campaigns nationally for some time to attract greater diversity, and that’s been attracting people from all different backgrounds with different skills and experiences.
"Women have been heavily represented in this space.
"Our trial bootcamp programme in Auckland has been focused on supporting people through the physical component of the testing, the Pre-Entry Physical Test, and we’ve seen lots of our female potential applicants attending.
"The bootcamp has a strong focus on attracting and supporting under-represented groups in our organisation. We’ve identified that we’ve been losing a lot of our diverse applicants at the fitness testing stage, so this strength and endurance bootcamp has been all about giving applicants better guidance and preparation so that they know what to expect and can better prepare.
"Now that we’re drawing to a close, we’ll be looking at our reports and statistics on evidence and performance, and if it’s been as successful as we think it has, we’d like to roll out the bootcamp format nationally."
Fire and Emergency Advisor Women’s Development Katie Smart says to her knowledge, today’s International Women’s Day celebrations around the country would be the first time women in the emergency services have all come together to celebrate the day.
"We’re hoping there will be more opportunities like this in the future as it’s such a positive initiative.
"We’ve had a steady increase in women taking up operational roles in firefighting nationally over the years and we’re working to maintain and grow this trend.
"We see International Women’s Day as a celebration of all women and the progress that’s been made in gender equity over the years, plus it’s also a great excuse for everyone to connect! Celebrations like these are not just good for our women, they are fundamentally about equity and equity benefits everyone, which is why Fire and Emergency loves the hashtag #BalanceforBetter, which is being used globally for IWD."