South Wales Echo
Rising to the challenge...
AT 5FT, CHARLOTTE MAY BE THE UK’S SHORTEST FIREFIGHTER – BUT THAT WON’T STOP HER
A FIREFIGHTER believed to be the shortest in the UK at just 5ft is prov- ing that she is more than capable of the job, despite her smaller stature. Charlotte York, 22, from Llantwit Major, is 18 months into her twoyear training with South Wales Fire and Rescue.
Originally working in admin for British Airways, Charlotte was encouraged into the career change by her father. She explained: “I lived with my dad in Porthcawl at the time, and he suggested going into the fire service. It was something I’d looked at before, but he didn’t know if we were in the five-minute responding distance.
“He’s in the RNLI, so he responds to a station right next to the fire service and he said ‘Well I can respond, so you should be able to too.’”
After talking with a mutual friend, Charlotte was encouraged to visit the station and describes her involvement as “snowballing from there”.
Standing at just five feet tall, Charlotte has been given the unofficial title of the UK’s shortest firefighter; however, that has no reflection on her capability in the role.
She explained: “I have to do the same job as the men, I have to be as strong as the men, and that’s fine.
“It was one of those things that was like, I’ve just got to train that little bit harder to make sure that I’m that little bit stronger, because obviously I’m not going to be as naturally strong as a 6ft 2in man, but that’s fine.
“It’s nothing that you can’t train towards.” Charlotte is now 18 months into her training and continues to prove her capabilities to both herself and others. She said that, despite having no surprises in the role, she has continued to surprise herself and has some particular moments that have made her proud.
One that particularly stood out, she explained, was her emergency day training, where they simulate real fire and emergency situations.
She said: “They simulate with an instructor as your actual casualty, and the instructor I had to drag out was about 140 kilograms – he was a big guy, but I got him out and I didn’t need the help of my partner.
“I did my job, and I knew I could do it, but it was doing it to prove to myself that I’d be able to in that situation. So it was a good day.”
Charlotte now has almost half a million subscribers on TikTok, where she shares her routines as a firefighter as well as her own personal hobbies. She hopes by sharing her experiences within South Wales Fire and Rescue that she can encourage more women to pursue careers in the fire service.
“Just do it, go down to the station and have a chat with the team. If someone thinks they’re not fit, that’s fine, fitness can be worked on, there’s nothing you can’t work towards.
“There’s nothing that, if you think, I want to do this with my career, why can’t you? Unless you have a physical disability that means you can’t train towards this, it’s doable. Anything’s doable, no matter what age, height or gender you are.”