GALLERY: Reporter Kelly finds out what it takes to be a firefighter at taster day

CAMBRIDGESHIRE Fire and Rescue Service held a have a go day to encourage more women to become firefighters. Reporter KELLY GREEN went to the event and was put through her paces to find out what it takes to be a female firefighter.

CAMBRIDGESHIRE Fire and Rescue Service held a 'have a go day' to encourage more women to become firefighters.

Reporter KELLY GREEN went to the event and was put through her paces to find out what it takes to be a female firefighter.

FIFTY-TWO per cent of the working population in Cambridgeshire are female, but astonishingly only 3.2 per cent of all firefighters in the county are female - just 24.

However, the fire service is keen to recruit more, and in a bid to show them how flexible and exciting the job is, they held a recruitment day to encourage more women to join the fire service.

You may also want to watch:

Being a firefighter isn't just a man's job. There are plenty of "lady firemen" already and they feel this is a great job.

Becky Freeman, a firefighter at Ely Fire Station said: "Firefighting is definitely not just a job for the boys. I've been a firefighter for eight years now, in Cambridgeshire and in London.

Most Read

"It's a great career as every day is different. I can't imagine doing anything else now."

There are currently six tests that make up the National firefighter Physical Tests - enclosed space, casualty evacuation, ladder climb, ladder lift, equipment assembly and equipment carry.

I tried most of these tests at the session held in Ely, wearing full firefighting uniform - which to my surprise was quite comfortable.

There were some tasks I found much easier than others - for example, I found the ladder climb simple. Wearing a harness, I had to climb a ladder 13.5m up a wall - the equivalent of a two-storey building.

The equipment assembly was also straight-forward, but it was made harder by the gloves I had to wear. They felt like the fingers had been superglued into shape.

And the enclosed space test was a lot of fun, although the breathing apparatus became steamed up as soon as I put it on. I found it difficult to get past some of the obstacles, and I'm a small person. I was surprised that a larger person would fit through.

The ladder lift was difficult - I got the bar, which simulated the weight of a ladder, above my head but didn't have the upper-body strength to lock my arms.

Rosanna Boulton, who made the trip to Ely from Saffron Walden to take part, had the same problem.

She said: "I could just about move the bar, but I couldn't pick it up totally. I think I probably would be able to if I'd done some training though."

The hardest test was the equipment carry - and it was the last test I tried.

I had to drag a hose reel for 25 metres and jog back; carry two coiled hoses for 100 metres; carry one coiled hose at chest height for 25 metres then jog back; pick up and carry a suction hose and basket strainer for 100 metres; jog back; and pick up and carry 30kgs for 100 metres.

It was difficult to keep a good grip of the two coiled hoses, and then became so tired that I had to stop half-way through the course. But it is a good test of stamina and strength.

Overall, the day was a huge success - and I would advise any woman who is thinking about changing careers, or who wants a new challenge, to think about the fire service.

Yes, it is physically tough but really good fun - and there are not many jobs where you go into work not knowing what you might do that day.

Julie Haslett, of Over, said: "I'm seriously looking at a career in the fire service after attending the session. I had a brilliant day. I didn't want it to end."

Tara Knowles, firefighter at March Fire Station said: "I joined the fire service five years ago and I absolutely love it here. It's challenging, but definitely rewarding.

"I would encourage any women in Cambridgeshire to come and have a go and find out for themselves."

• For more information, visit

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter