Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Here She Comes

A few posts back I talked about a female (back then) possibly being hired on the fire department.
I got an e-mail that made me think I didn't clarify what I was saying. Let me try to do that now.

At the time I spoke about in that post, there just weren't many females that even took the entrance exam. Of the maybe 250 people that would take the test, only sometimes would there be 3 females. Only about half of all the people that took the entrance test passed. Of those that passed about 1/3 of them failed the physical agility test.

Also, I talked about how everyone takes the same physical (and all other) test. I also said the test is a real bitch. It hurt me when I took it. It kicked my ass when every couple of years I had to re-take it along with the other firefighters to re-validate the times. I hate that test. Everyone hates that test. At the end of it most of us just fall over and sit for a while, out of breath, legs turned to rubber. I think the test is exactly the same as the Combat Challenge. In competition the winning scores are less than 2 minutes. My time (the last time I took it) was 4:42. The time the recruits have to beat is 5:30.

The point I was trying to make is that when I crawl into a situation, I know that every firefighter with me, and all the firefighters following us passed the same test. They were held to the same standard, male or female. They all have what it took to get through that bitch of a test and keep going. Every. Single. One.

Contrast that with the way some of our area departments test. I know for a fact that some departments have completely different time standards for male and female. Their physical test is different than ours, but the result is the same. A male must pass the test in say 5 minutes. But a female is allowed 7. That is unfair. Not just to the guys but to the women too. It doesn't matter if a female is in near Olympic condition and can pass the test in 4 minutes. The guys on the department see a woman that only had to do it in 7. That's not fair to her, and it's a tough wedge between the guys and girls. The worst part is that fires and other emergencies don't give a rats ass if you're a male or female. Fires don't burn cooler if there are females fighting it. Collapsed buildings and caved in trenches don't get lighter if there are females in it. And injured citizens or down firefighters don't magically get easier to carry if there are females present.

In contrast, every female that works in my department can hold her head high and know and say that she did everything the guys did.

That fact helped a lot when we did hire our first female. It helped to know that several guys failed the physical test she took and passed. It helped that she was faster on the test than a few of the guys she was hired with. It was a real comfort to know that she was capable of doing the job.

The stress was having to adjust to having a female around the station now.
Now we had to behave.

I'm sorry if my previous post led any to think that I was against women in the fire service. I am not. In fact let me be perfectly frank;
I don't care if you are male or female
I don't care if you are black or brown or green or blue or white with pink eyes
I don't care if you are from the city or the country
I don't care if you are single or married or have a life partner
I don't care if have kids or love cats

I really don't give flat fuck about anything except this:
That you pass the minimum standards of the department
That you do your best (whatever your best may be)
That you watch out for me and my brothers and sisters
That you do whats right for the citizens
And that we all go home.

I'll tell you about Cindy soon.

Mr Fixit


Beaker said...

I hate when they have different standards for the girls and guys. I always feel like I have to do so well at the test that everyone hears that I kicked the shit out of the guy's standards let alone passing the girls standards. (Yes, I'm a girl.)

William the Coroner said...

When the rubber meets the road, this is all that matters.

k. smart said...

Mr. Fixit,

Here in the socialist dystopia called canada, a city fire department did just what you bemoan. To wit, lower qualifying standards for certain people to promote diversity in personnel make-up.

This, as you so rightly point out, caused a great amount of friction between the truly qualified, and the less than qualified. It also undermined public confidence of the entire department.

The solution from the barking moonbat politicians?

Revert to making all applicants perform to the same level? No.

A department-wide rule that all members, competent or not, shall wear only officially approved, identical underwear!

True. You just can't make this stuff up.


Brandon said...

I think that one of the greatest strengths of Metro is that, although they're hiring 4,000 officers in 10 years, they haven't compromised the physical fitness test standards, both men and women take the same test.

GeorgeH said...

Ed Koch was mayor of New York when women first started as firemen there. He had a great line: "I don't care what sex a firefighter is , as long as they can carry a 200 pound mayor down a ladder"