Nfld. & Labrador

St. John's needs women firefighters: trainer

The St. John's Regional Fire Department needs to change how it chooses its employees, says the co-ordinator of a program that trains women to tackle blazes.

The St. John's Regional Fire Department needs to change how it chooses employees, says the co-ordinator of a program that trains women to tackle blazes.

Stephanie Alyward, 25, spoke out against the fire department this week about how she could not even get a job interview with the fire department, despite having worked as a firefighter in Fort McMurray, Alta., for two years.

Her sister was also denied an interview, despite also passing written and physical exams.

The City of St. John's said other candidates scored higher in their applications.

Mary Clark, who co-ordinates the Camp Glow training program in Stephenville, on Newfoundland's west coast, said she was disappointed to learn of the rejections, and argues that recruiters need to look beyond test results.

"There's a need for both men and women in the fire department because it's not all about lifting that 300-pound person down ... seven storeys," she said.

"It's about all kinds of search and rescue things. It's about being smart, it's about operating the pumper truck, it's about speed. It's about all sorts of things," Clark said in an interview Thursday.

Only three women work as firefighters with the St. John's Regional Fire Department, compared to about 180 men.

Clark said the department should be doing more to recruit women, and that the provincial government should be making sure that happens.

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