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For first time, new female firefighters outnumber men in Clearview

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A group of women make history in Clearview township.

According to the deputy fire chief Scott Davison, this year's firefighter recruitment class is comprised of 70 per cent women, a first for the department.

"I'm excited to help people," said Femke Randeraad, one of the eight female recruits.

Randeraad told CTV News that she was inspired to apply for the position after watching first responders work tirelessly during the pandemic and wanted to give back to her community and to set an example for her child.

"I have a four-year-old daughter at home, and I'm really excited to be a representation of a strong woman for her," said Randeraad.

A fellow recruit Krystle Hogg shares a similar story.

The young mother hopes by dedicating her time to her community it will rub off on her child.

"My daughter is 16, and she's in those teenage years, so those are their harder years, so any anything to encourage them to push themselves to be all they can be—That's important for me," said Hogg.

According to Mississauga Fire chief and long time chief operator in Ontario, Deryn Rizzi, women make up around three to four per cent of Canada's fire services.

Chief Rizzi says through her years, she has seen an increase in women interested in becoming firefighters, but more work needs to be done to diversify the profession.

"Not only just male and female but also visible minorities and the indigenous communities," said Cheif Rizzi.

Carmen Poulin and Dr. Lynne Gouliquer studied Canadian female firefighters and the reasons for the lack thereof in the profession.

The entire study can be found here.

Poulin explained in length several reasons why they believe historically women have chosen not to join the profession, including harassment and misogyny, but says stereotypes around firefighting are also harming the number of candidates.

"It always puts the guy carrying this helpless woman, but in addition, what it does is it illustrates one per cent of what firefighters do," said Poulin, a Gender and Women's Studies professor at the University of New Brunswick.

Poulin noted that firefighting requires all skill sets, regardless of physicality, and the culture needs to change with regards to "ideal" candidates.

On Sunday, the recruits went through several training sessions at the Creemore fire station learning the tools of the trade. A multiple-month training program that the recruits say have already brought them together as a team.

"They make you feel welcome. They make you feel a part of the team," said Hogg.

The recruits are expected to take their exam in June before becoming certified firefighters. Once completed, deputy fire chief Davison says 20 per cent of their Clearview team will be women.  

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