A female firefighter fighting a fire

Women in Fire and Rescue Services

CTIF Women Logo About The CTIF Commission for Women in Fire & Rescue

Main Activities / Purpose of the Commission:

- Develop and issue recommendations to improve the working conditions of women
-  Develop job descriptions
-  Develop a questionnaire to study the psychological climate and adaptation for women in the occupation
-  Annual publication in CTIF World Fire Statistics of information on women's activity in the field, on fires caused by children and on child casualties
-  Involve new members in the Working Group


Aims of the Commission for Women in Fire and Rescue Services

  • Encourage fire and rescue services to be inclusive for everyone
  • Improve working conditions for all women within fire and rescue services
  • Make Fire and Rescue Services more attractive for women to apply and become operational firefighters and continue to support them to remain in that profession
  • Learn from each other and collect best practices
  • Encourage more countries to become active members in the Commission for Women in Fire and Rescue Services


Chairperson: Mira Leinonen, Finland

Vice Chair: Mona Hjortzberg, Sweden

Secretary: Nicola Lown

Please scroll down for more members and biographies


Member Countries: 

Russia, Sweden, Germany, UK, France, Austria, Serbia, Romania, Hungary, Finland, Japan, Slovenia, Denmark, Canada, USA, Germany, Netherlands


Way of Communication: 

e-mail, Facebook

Contact: Mira Leinonen, mirafoni112@gmail.com


Products of the Working Groups: 

-  A Survey (Click here to see the Survey Answers)

- Reports from the Commission Meetings


Meeting Reports:

Click here for the 2017 Meeting Report from Berlin, Germany

Click here for the 2016 Meeting Report from Ljubljana, Slovenia


History & Background

The first Women's Committee of CTIF was formed in 1912. It was headed by Maria Ermolova (St. Petersburg, Russia). World War I interrupted their activites and the Committee was not reformed until exactly 100 years later.

In 2012 the modern version of the Working Group CTIF “Women in Fire Services” started and the first meeting took place in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Two years later, the Working Group was upgraded to Commission Status:

2012: CTIF Working Group -- “Women in Fire Services”

2014: CTIF Commission -- “Women in Fire and Rescue Services”  


Chronology of joining member countries to the meetings:

2012 - St. Petersburg (Russia ) - Austria, Russia, Sweden, Germany, UK, France, Serbia
2012 - Bratislava (Slovakia) – Romania, Finland, Japan
2013 - Belgrade (Serbia) – Slovenia, Hungary

2013 - Mulhouse (France) - no new members
2014 - Helsinki (Finland) - Denmark
2014 - Tokyo (Japan) - Canada, USA

2015 - Stockholm (Sweden) –Norway, Poland

2015 - Warsaw (Poland) - Germany, Netherlands

2016 - London (Great Britain) - no new members

2016 - Kongsberg (Norway) - no new members

2017- Ljubljana(Slovenia)- no new members

2017- Berlin (Germany) - no new members


The Commission Meeting in Barcelona November 2019

The Commission Meeting in Barcelona November 2019. Photo: Barcelona Fireservice


Commission Members 2018

Mira LeionenMira Leinonen - Finland


Mira graduated from Lappeenranta Technical University as a master of science in 2006, moved to Helsinki and started to work as a leading specialist in Finnish Railway Safety Agency.

In 2008 she started to study along with working life in Emergency Services College in Kuopio, where she graduated in 2010. Since then Mira has worked as a senior officer in Fire and Rescue Services in Finland. In 2013-2016 she worked as a project manager for Finnish safety authorities building a new generations’ s field command system.

Mira has been an active member of volunteer fire brigade in Anjali since 1989 and been a volunteer fire fighter since 1998. Mira was elected as chair to Finnish women in fire and rescue services in 2015 and the same year she was also elected to chair to CTIF women in fire rescue services commission for next 4 years. She looks forward to Commission work to improve equal opportunities for all in Fire and Rescue services.


Mona HjortzbergMona Hjortzberg - Sweden

Vice chair

Mona started working in the fire and rescue services in 1997, by participating in a government project that was carried out by the Stockholm Fire Brigade. The project lasted for ten months and was investigating why there were no female full time professional firefighters. In 1998, Mona was hired as a firefighter by Södertörn's Fire Brigade and worked in that capacity for twenty years.

As an elected union representative, Mona started working in 2007 with issues that concern women at the workplace, such as attitudes towards women, pregnancy, firefighting equipment and protective clothing. During this time, she began forming a nationwide network for women in fire and rescue services. The network, called Women in Fire and Rescue Services, was officially started in 2011. Mona was elected chair that first year and is still chair today.

In 2013, Mona represented Sweden in the CTIF Working Group Women in Fire Services and was elected in 2015 as vice chair of the Commission for Women in Fire and Rescue Services.


Susanne KlattDivision Chief Susanne Klatt

Essen, Germany.

Susanne is currently a division chief with the Essen, Germany Fire Department and a leader in integrating women into the fire service in Germany. After high school Susanne studied safety and fire engineering and holds a Diplom-Ingenieur (Masters) degree in engineering and a bachelor of science in psychology.

She worked as a safety engineer for an engineering firm on construction sites in Germany and on oil- and gas platforms in the North Sea prior to joining the fire service. She started her career in the fire service as a volunteer firefighter in 1992 and became a career firefighter in 2001.

After joining the career fire service as a fire officer trainee, she worked as a trainer for leadership, methodology, and fire tactics for the state fire service college of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. Susanne has served as a division chief with the Essen Fire Department since 2008. As a division chief, Susanne supervises and commands over 190 fire officers and firefighters.

She serves as an incident commander for large incidents of all types. She is also responsible for risk assessment, as well as health, safety and environment within the Essen Fire Department. In 2009 Susanne began the Executive Fire Officer Program (US National Fire Academy) and graduated in 2012. In 2006 Susanne co-founded Netzwerk Feuerwehrfrauen, the German network of female firefighters, and has served as its president since then.


Saskia PouwSaskia Pouw - Netherlands


Saskia Pouw works as an Inspector for Fire Prevention in the Safety Region of Utrecht, The Netherlands.

Her work consists of inspecting buildings, providing information to schools, supervising evacuation exercises in healthcare institutions, checking events and answering citizens’ questions about fire safety.

She was a volunteer/part-time firefighter for 10 years, and has been been a member of the Dutch Network of Female Firefighters since 2000 and a Board member for 6 of those years.

She has attended on behalf of Ellen Buskens’ at the meetings of the CTIF Commission for Women in Fire and Rescue Services in Ljubljana, Berlin (2017) and Fairfax US, Vienna (2018).



Nicola LownNicola Lown- United Kingdom

Commission Secretary

Nicola left college with a Diploma for Medical Secretaries in 1988 and moved to London where she worked as a medical secretary until she joined the London Fire Brigade as an operational firefighter in January 1995.  

She moved to Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service and was also seconded from December 2007 for 3 years to the national training centre, the Fire Service College in Moreton-in-Marsh, England, as a station manager in the Incident Command Team and then returned to the London Fire Brigade in 2013 where she is now an operational station manager in the Strategy and Inclusion Team.  

Nicola is an Executive Committee Member of Women in the Fire Service, UK and has been a member for 14 years.  She has been secretary to the CTIF Women in Fire and Rescue Services Commission since the 7th meeting in Stockholm in April 2015 and looks forward to continue sharing best practice with the members of the Commission. 


Ellen BuskensEllen Buskens - the Netherlands

Ellen started her career as a firefighter in 2001 at the volunteer fire brigade in Velp. At that time she was working as an exercise physiologist in Arnhem. Because of the love for the rescue services she started a fullltime management course at the firefigthers academy for managing officer in 2003.

In 2005, after she graduated, she started as an preparation officer at the fire brigade in Zevenaar.

In 2015 she was asked to fulfill the chair to the Dutch women in fire and rescue services. Nowadays she advices the Dutch fire services in occupational health service and about the health monitoring and physical aspects en testing from all firefighters. She also still works as an fire service officer


Victoria Zechmeister SmallVictoria Zechmeister- Austria


Berufsfeuerwehr Wien (Fire Department Vienna)

Einsatzleiterin (Incident Commander)

Referatsleiterin Nachrichtentechnik

Technische Angelegenheiten Alarmierungstechnik (Specialist in communication)


Barbara Szykuła - Poland


- Senior Captain Barbara Szykuła - Piec

- PhD in Sociology from The Main School of Fire Service
- Head of the Department of Social Education
in Warsaw

Barbara is driven by a desire to regulate matters relating to equality and support for women in the uniformed services. Women's issues, violence, the glass ceiling, discrimination and stereotypes are important issues which she would like to work with in the Commission.