Rose Blanche welcomes first female firefighters
New year brings new faces to the ranks
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.”
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.