In hiring Danielle Buckner, Sault Fire Services took its name off the shrinking list of full-time departments in Ontario without an active female firefighter.
According to the P-Sec Research Group, only 4.4% of firefighters in Canada are female. Sault Fire Services Chief, Peter Johnson, is thrilled to have a female join the force for only the second time in the history of the service.
“Sault Ste. Marie Fire Service is excited to welcome our second female firefighter to [the] service. Danielle brought all of the core competencies, qualifications, experience and positive leadership skills we look for in a firefighter recruit, and we want to congratulate her on being selected from an extensive field of qualified candidates,” said Johnson in an e-mailed statement. “Sault Fire Services is a dedicated advocate for the promotion of diversity and inclusivity, and we extend a very warm welcome to Danielle. I hope her example serves as a demonstration for local young women to follow in her footsteps about the possibility of a career as a Firefighter. Sault Fire Services and our community would be well served by increased involvement from women in our operations.”
Across Canada, other women who have joined a Fire Service spoke with Emergency Reporting, a fire industry website about their advice and visions for women in firefighting.
They spoke with Keri Martens, a Deputy Fire Chief in Canmore, Alberta who gave her opinion on some of the challenges faced by firefighters of the fairer sex.
“Part of the problem is that women don’t see themselves as firefighters. Society has this image in their minds as to what a firefighter looks like. You have to see it to be it, so we need to change that image. Work has to be done to normalize women in these roles. Gear and PPE has to be tailored and fit to specific body types (this, by the way, will benefit all firefighters),” said Martens to Emergency Reporting. “Programs have to be adapted to fit all people. There is never just one way to accomplish a task. Fire stations have to be inclusive, and space has to be carved out for individuals (washrooms, changerooms, sleeping quarters, etc.). Mental and physical health programs have to be adapted to fit the individual; it can no longer be a “cookie cutter” approach.”
For her part, Danielle is excited to start her journey with Sault Fire Services.
“I am excited to be starting a career as a full-time firefighter with Sault Ste. Marie Fire Services. My experience working as a firefighter with the MNRF, as well as volunteering with Prince Township Fire, showed me how much I enjoyed working as part of a team that solves problems,” said Buckner. “What I look forward to most are all of the learning opportunities in the fire service and serving my community. I hope that young girls and other women can see me in this role and know that being a firefighter in Sault Ste. Marie is a possibility for them, too.”
SaultOnline looks forward to continuing to document the actions of our emergency services in Sault Ste. Marie, be it on an emergency scene or decisions which are being made to change the services provided.