Flat White

It’s madness for half our firefighters to be female

1 November 2021

11:20 AM

1 November 2021

11:20 AM

We are currently witnessing a ludicrous campaign aiming for fifty per cent female firefighters. Prominent male bosses have taken this on as a personal crusade, like Greg Mullins the former Commissioner of Fire and Rescue NSW, who spent his last years in the job pushing this agenda.  

In 2018, he introduced gender quotas where applicants were split into male and female streams and an equal number of the highest scoring men and women were chosen. That meant that a male applicant who ranked in the fifty first percentile of his gender stream missed out on a job even if he got a better score on his tests than a female. Anyone who objected was told to look for another job.  

I’ve had many firefighters writing to me about this issue, ever since I attracted a huge feminist pile-on two years ago for a tweet about our brave firefighters, pointing out that it is mainly men who are risking their lives to save others and giving thanks for the good in men.  

It led to a funny skirmish when one of our prominent feminists claimed the photo I used in that tweet showed a female firefighter – but she turned out to be wrong as I show in this television interview. Naturally our media responded by madly promoting female firefighters, showing photos of the small numbers of women actually involved in fighting the dreadful bushfires Australia was then experiencing.   

The fracas attracted people across the country who contacted me about what’s happening in our firefighting services. Many are concerned about the new gender quotas, alarmed to see this vital service highjacked to promote a feminist agenda.  

Alongside the actual quotas there’s a systematic whitewashing of the real facts about women’s roles in firefighting, misrepresenting their capabilities, denying the problems with smaller, weaker people struggling with very difficult physical tasks. Many women are being treated as star recruits, given an easy ride to get into the service, leapfrogging over able, hard-working men to achieve promotion and win awards – all to showcase that our fire services are embracing diversity. 

Firefighting is seen as one of the last bastions of masculinity, a boy’s club which showcases men’s toughness, courage and strength. Naturally feminists have been determined to prove this wrong, getting women into the job to show there’s nothing women can’t do.  

Now clearly there’s no problem with women becoming firefighters, provided they can actually do the work. Brenda Berkman was New York’s first female firefighter. A former lawyer she failed the fitness test when she first applied but orchestrated an anti-discrimination case claiming the tough test was deliberately designed to exclude women. She won, got into the service and faced an appallingly tough time, including death threats. But she did well, working for decades as a firefighter and ended up promoted. Good for her.   

Strong, tough women like Brenda have every right to do this difficult job. But what bothered me was reading this article where Berkman was interviewed about the September 11 disaster. She complains bitterly that the press coverage of the heroic firemen who died trying to rescue people from the twin towers talked only about “firemen”, saying she had heard from female fighters everywhere complaining about the media omitting women firefighters from the story. Yet, in fact all the firefighters who died at the Twin Towers were firemen – 343 brave men. There were only 25 female fighters in the NY fire department at that time compared to 1,100 men.  

It is nonsense for Berkman to claim that women’s important role in this disaster was being misrepresented. It is still mainly men doing the really tough jobs in the fire service as in most other careers which are dangerous and physically difficult. Here we have a job which everyone knows sometimes requires real bodily strength and endurance and now we have to pretend that’s not so.  

I’m reminded of Douglas Murray in his recent book The Madness of Crowds where he says we are being asked to be believe in things we know can’t possibly be true and not to believe in things we have always known to be true.  


The new female spin 

Just look at the way firefighting is now being presented. Here’s Bronnie MacIntosh, one of the new female stars of the NSW fire service, giving a Ted Talk on why they need female firefighters. She proudly describes people being rescued because the smaller female firefighters were able to squeeze through car windows and roof cavities to reach them. 

What I found particularly offensive was MacIntosh boasting that as a woman it was appropriate for her to hug the father of an injured teenage girl to reassure him that his daughter would be ok. No mention, of course, of the fact that it is deemed inappropriate for men to play that caregiving role anymore because feminists have succeeded in convincing us that men are potential predators.  

This firefighting superstar also describes, with much hilarity from the audience, the story of a female firefighter holding a man’s penis as colleagues surgically remove multiple stainless steel rings from his appendage. Can you imagine the reaction if a male firefighter was to make fun of a woman who got herself in trouble by sticking something inappropriate in her vagina? Women do that sort of thing but we aren’t allowed to talk about it.  

Macintosh claimed that women’s skills are needed because the job is now more diverse, with only 7 per cent of calls involving responding to fires or emergencies. That was true in the year she gave that talk, with the Fire and Rescue NSW figures from 2018-19 showing 293,468 of the 420,925 activities in the services devoted to prevention and school visits.  

Funnily enough the very next year was a different story. NSW saw one of the worst bushfire seasons on record and received 190,000 emergency fire calls. This was followed by massive floods in the Northern Rivers where, in a single day, they dealt with 5,000 incidents. That’s what the service is really all about – dealing with emergencies and there’s no telling when they will happen.   

But the spin is constant. Here is the Sydney Morning Herald arguing that although male firefighters have more strength, women have more endurance. Sure, that’s why in professional tennis male players play five sets and women only three? 

Many women struggle with the job 

As many firemen have explained to me, quite a few female firefighters are really struggling. Take a minute to look at this short, funny video showing a female firefighter competing in a competition and unable to knock down a door. 

One retired fireman, who was in the service for 25 years, wrote to me about working well with female firefighters in the past – who gained entry through the normal testing process. But when the new 50/50 quota system was introduced the physical aptitude test was changed. He pointed out it no longer includes a ladder lift (this apparently was the task that stopped a large percentage of females from getting through in the past). The ladder is 11 metres long and heavy but a vital piece of equipment.  

He also described the hose – “a roll of hose can weigh up to 10 kilos and firefighters may be required to carry more than one roll and when charged with water the weight, difficulty and manageability increases exponentially”. Then there’s the task of joining the hose together, which he says requires considerable grip strength. He mentioned a Sydney fire station which sent out an official memo advising the crew that the only female fire-fighter at the station would not be required to connect hose. 

Add to these difficulties the incredibly heavy protective gear firefighters wear which can weigh more than 40 kilos. It’s acknowledged in some firefighting literature that retention rates are poor for female recruits, with a survey of volunteer firefighters showing reasons for dropping out including equipment being too heavy, equipment stowed too high on trucks, and problems with their protective gear. There’s also evidence that female firefighters experience higher rates of injury than male firefighters. Male firefighters regularly cover for female colleagues who can’t manage all the job.  

A smooth ride to the top 

Interestingly, women in the fire service are doing incredibly well. The latest 2018-19  Champions of Change report on women’s progress in firefighting notes that the key national management body, the National Council for Fire and Emergency Services, is now 65% women. Overall, only about five per cent of Australian professional firefighters are women, and about 14% of volunteer firefighters, but this report shows 29% of key management are female.  

Women are being systematically encouraged into the service and pushed up the ladder. The report found all promotions for Bushfires Northern Territory that year went to women. 100% of graduate hires by Tasmania Fire Service and South Australian State and Emergency Services were women. And so it goes on….  

It’s pleasing to note there have been objections to what’s happening here from female firefighters.  Many of these women are concerned about all these efforts to bend the rules to admit more women, knowing that will detract from their own achievements. In Victoria, female union members tried unsuccessfully to take legal action to try to stop quotas.  

I’ve made a video about firefighter gender quotas where you will see Rachel Cowling, a Victorian firefighter whose father was a fireman, talking about why she took a stand against quotas. Please help me circulate this YouTube video. 

 It just shows. Sensible men and women know that gender quotas undermine the legitimacy of competent women who work hard and do the job well, and create resentment and discontent in the services.  

But, none of this matters to male bosses busily selling out the troops to pander to the feminist mob and their lackeys in the media.  

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