Rose Blanche wel­comes first fe­male firefighters

New year brings new faces to the ranks

The Gulf News (Port aux Basques) - - FRONT PAGE - BY ROSALYN ROY Roslyn.roy@tc.tc

Both Tammy Far­rell and Mona Har­ris con­fessed to be­ing ner­vous. Up un­til re­cently only men had staffed the Rose Blanche Fire De­part­ment. Still, at the Jan. 5 meet­ing both were de­ter­mined to join, and for largely sim­i­lar rea­sons.

“I’m al­ways here,” said Far­rell.

Har­ris thought along the same lines, “I’m a mom. I’m al­ways around.”

De­spite hav­ing a de­part­ment of 21 vol­un­teers at the time, a lot of the firefighters have full time or sea­sonal jobs that take them out of the prov­ince for long stretches. The two women have no such sched­ul­ing con­flict, and their com­mu­nity ties run deep and strong.

“I’m one of those,” said Far­rell with a laugh, “that I’m go­ing to go help any­way.”

“I just wanted to join and do my part,” echoed Har­ris.

As the town clerk, Far­rell had been think­ing about join­ing the fire de­part­ment for a long time. Her job re­quires her to work closely with de­part­ment, and she had al­ready been trained as a first re­spon­der, qual­i­fied to op­er­ate the de­fib­ril­la­tor.

Be­fore join­ing she would have waited for a fire­fighter to ac­com­pany her when re­spond­ing to an emer­gency. Now that she is a fire­fighter she’s ob­li­gated to go alone if she has to, not that it’s likely she ever would.

Far­rell and Har­ris have al­ready un­der­gone train­ing, and will con­tinue to re­ceive more once the Port aux Basques fire de­part­ment sched­ules its de­fense fire­fight­ing course. In the mean­time the women have dealt with hoses, switches, and just fig­ur­ing out how to get into the heavy fire­fighter clothes.

“That was a task in it­self,” Har­ris con­fessed.

Luck­ily they had lots of help and sup­port from their male coun­ter­parts. Far­rell said when she first mused aloud about join­ing up she re­ceived noth­ing but en­cour­age­ment, telling her to just go for it.

“They have been phe­nom­e­nal with us. Really, really sup­port­ive,” said Har­ris, claim­ing that the men went out of their way to not only wel­come the new recruits, but make sure to in­clude them in ev­ery as­pect of the job.

Along with the train­ing, that con­stant sup­port has con­trib­uted im­mensely to their fast grow­ing con­fi­dence. So do they now feel qual­i­fied if they have to bat­tle some flames?

“I sure hope so,” said Har­ris. “I’d bet­ter be.”

“We’re ex­pected to do what­ever they do,” agreed Far­rell. “We have our own pagers now too.”

PHO­TOS COURTESY OF GERALDINE HARDY

New mem­bers of the Rose Blanche Fire De­part­ment are Sandy Spencer and Mona Har­ris who cut the cer­e­mo­nial cake at the re­cent fire de­part­ment event.

Tammy Far­rell joined the fire de­part­ment in Rose Blanche.

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