Palm Beach Gardens Fire and Rescue in South Florida made history last month when it assigned it’s crew to the fire house on September 18th. It seems like it was just the way the schedule came down when they had the first all-female fire crew in the department’s 57-year existence.
The women, who range in age from 29 to 53, have nearly 80 years of firefighting and EMT experience between them, but they had never worked a shift together until Sept. 18th, when each was scheduled to work at the same station.
On the day they had their all-female shift, the station responded to several calls, and the women said they were amused by the reception they received.
“The reaction from people when they saw five women pile out of two different apparatus was funny,” firefighter Krystyna Krakowski recalled. “They wanted to give us high-fives,” said Sandi Ladewski, the only female driver engineer for the department. “They’d call us for their emergency but then they were like, ‘Oh, wait, high-five!’ We didn’t know what to do.”
Others reacted in a somewhat expected fashion, with support, but also sexist, if good natured, ribbing. “Of course, the jokes piled in,” Krakowski recalled. “Did you have pillow fights? Did you go online shopping together? But then there was the support, which was great. People were like, ‘I hope you get a big call so you can show them what you’re capable of.'” Firefighter is still one of those jobs people don’t see women doing.
But Krakowski is a Lieutenant with nearly 20 years of experience on the job and she was excited by what happened that day. “That day, every rank was filled with a female, which was awesome, I’m not going to lie,” said Krystyna. “I was giddy like a little girl. I still am. It’s girl power — we build each other up and we rise by lifting others.”
She also shared that she wanted to inspire one of her biggest fans, her 21 year old daughter. Krakowski is a single mom and she wants to show her daughter that women can do any job. Now, their story has gone viral, inspiring other women.
While they are not sure when they will be scheduled to work together again, a statement from Palm Beach Gardens Fire and Rescue says it’s a definite possibility that there will be another all female crew; due to the number of females the department employs.
“Our progressive staffing and recruitment efforts are reflected in that moment,” the statement reads. “Nationally, female firefighters represent 4% of professional firefighters, whereas women make up 11% of our department’s firefighters. We are especially proud that 58% of our female firefighters hold the rank of Lieutenant or higher.”
For their 24 hour shift the women did the job to every expected standard and answered repeated calls. They work 24-hour shifts and then get 48 hours off before they repeat the same routine. During their shifts, they respond to calls involving incidents like structure fires, car accidents, medical emergencies and traumatic injuries.
“We’ll keep doing what we do: doing our job and supporting each other and staying positive,” said Krakowski. “It’s about getting through and being there for each other.” Proving themselves quite the inspiration and your Good News Story of the Day, which you can find more on here.
And with inspiration like that, maybe more people will see the truth. You don’t have to have a certain gender, or look, or anything to go after a challenging career. Firefighter, Doctor, Politician, Radio. Gender is not a barrier in capability. Just in perception.
Story and Image from Today.