The CTIF Commission for Women in Fire & Rescue met for two days in Vienna
The 27th and 28th of November the CTIF Women in Fire and Rescue Services Commission held their 14th meeting in Vienna, Austria.
The meeting was held at the “Zentralfeurwache”, Central Fire Station in Central Vienna.
Welcome by the Chief of the fire brigade, Gerald Hillinger - Branddirektor
Welcome from Mira Leinonen, Chair
As a visitor it is always allowed to have other countries represented. These meetings are about
collecting information. Mira explained about CTIF for the new members and visitors.
During these 2 days Mira wanted to do video-interviews from all the participants and everyone agreed.
Mona Hjortzberg showed CTIF News and the website https://www.ctif.org/commissions-and-
The minutes of the meeting 22-23 May 2018 in Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department were
agreed upon. They will be posted on the website as soon as possible.
There was an opportunity for everybody around the table to introduce themselves briefly.
Some brief comments from this introduction are included below (just the new participants as these
introductions take time but are important).
Steffi works in the head office in Berlin. She advices all the small organisations and she focus on
diversity. She is here because Susanne Klatt was not able to come.
Sheila is Chief Fire Officer for Meath County Fire and Rescue Service and is over 18 years in the fire
service in Ireland. She is the manager for all aspects of the fire service within her County and came
to the service as an professional engineer. She is supported in being here by the professional
association representing Chief Fire Officers in Ireland (CFOA).
Annick is deputy Fire Chief of Luxemburg city. 5 years ago she started as an officer. She is the only
one in Luxembourg with this position.
Pierrette is a volunteer for 30 years. She never had the chance to get professional as yet.
Michelle has been a firefighter for 25 years she is a Chief Superintendent with Queensland fire and
emergency services. She is the previous vice president of WAFA and an international board member
Janja Kramer Stajnko:
Janja from Slovenia is a volunteer firefighter and deputy president of Fire Fighting Association of
Clara Latorre Gasull:
Clara is from Barcelona. Spain are not a member yet but she is glad to be a visitor. In Barcelona there
are only professional firefighters. Clara is Chief Commander. Her supervisor wants to promote
woman in the fire service so she has permission to attend our meeting.
Philippine has been a cadet and works in Versailles for 7 years now and she writes notes of the
strategy of interventions. Veronique was told about this Commission and is very interested in it’s
topic of women in the fire services.
Powerpoint Presentation from Luxembourg from Annick.
Afterwards we have a discussion about the language. Luxembourg had diversity of languages. In
Luxemburg they have many languages. The books are in German. Luxemburgish is the main
Later we have discussions about the physical tests. In Luxemburg there is a different test between
men and woman. They only get that test when they enter the fire service.
Sheila from Ireland is here with the support of the Chief Fire Officer Association in Ireland and
Ireland is interested in becoming a member and setting up a network for women in the fire services
in Ireland. Celina Barrett who is the Chief Fire Officer for Kildare Fire and Rescue Service attended
the last meeting, also as a visitor.
Sheila explained a little about the structure of the fire service in Ireland and how services are
managed from government level to local service delivery. Ireland does not have any volunteers
firefighters. The operational fire service is either full time or what we refer to as retained (on-call) or
part-time staff who respond to a pager call and must live and work very close to their local station (a
turnout time of about five minutes to the station). Just 3.3% of the operational and fire prevention
staff (excluding administrative) in the Irish fire services are women. In the retained fire services the
percentage of women is just 1.6% and in the full time it’s a little higher at 4%.At senior officer
women are better represented and Sheila explained a little the reasons for this. Sheila says that they
need to seriously improve the diversity within Irish fire service and this is coming at a time when also
having problems both recruiting and retaining the retained firefighters. Ireland is very pleased to be
represented at this Commission meeting and is supportive of the ongoing work .
Michelle presentation: In Queensland the Commissioner is a woman and the service is pretty much
20% volunteers. There are language problems with aboriginal people. Strategy’s that Queensland
has is that every picture has girls/woman in it “You see it you can be it’’. Both genders have the same
entry level test.
To keep women working and volunteering in the fire service there are flexible shifts; 8- hours, 12
hours, 24 hours. There has been a change to the policy on maternity. They get 18 weeks maternity
weeks on full pay. Organisational shift.
They get skills to help them to move to the next rank.
Discussion what are possibilities if woman get pregnant/get children. Shifts etc. In the future also the
Technical and material topics:
Ellen B. is doing an investigation about the fitting of the importance of the masks
Who wants to participate the International investigation about this topic?
Presentation from LFB of the woman who died, Fleur Lombard. Here is the link if you want to read
more about the fire at Leo’s supermarket.
For those who want to learn more about Dr Mandy Stirling’s Anthropometric work about female
firefighters and size differences to men:
It was discussed about how the PPE/clothing/breathing apparatus were investigated-the outcome
may have been the same unfortunately due to a number of factors (i.e. if PPE issues were not there
it may have been that Fleur Lombard would still have been killed).
Much discussion about breathing apparatus (BA) masks and suits/firefighting kit. In Australia and the
Netherlands there are 3 sizes of masks. In the Netherlands there is a region who have the
“Ballyclare” there are also men who want that suit because it fits them right.
Ireland has one kit sizing. In Spain there is only 1 size mask. For people with small faces it is too big.
Presentation from Mira:
The presentation is about result woman’s gear/firefighting kit. Mira made a rapport and spread it to
all the fire stations. She also did a press release. After that people’s eyes were opened and
awareness improved. Everything is going to be pre-designed for all.
Viktoria showed her gear and gave a demonstration how she puts everything on, including the mask.
Recommendations from other countries. We have different ways. If it does not work in another
country it can be an example for a different country. It is not about aesthetics but about comfort and
safety. You must go further to prevent and protect.
Collect the information.
In future there will be a survey and presentation from Mona about the results. (appendix)
Action plans, policies.
Memo: Mira is responsible for the translation for the next meeting.
We should collect ideas on how to provide good role models to encourage girls and woman to the
fire service. Need good relations with media and to promote the message. How do they see us and
do young girls even consider the fire service as an option? Do they know about us? (changing the
perceptions , like “fireman Sam” is now firefighter Sam).
How come there are so less woman in the fire service? How do people see a firefighter and can help
to change that?
How does the Austrian Fire Service work? A very good film about Austrian fire brigade.
Mona gives presentation about a workshop in Stockholm. Leadership with Ulrika Sedell. She wrote a
book about ‘’How to break the glass ceiling’’ based on 8 questions. How they can change and taking
a next step in career. There should be a platform for women to try out being at next level so they
can experience it before committing. Information about what do you have to do and know about the
physical tests. There is a try-out to go to a higher level/promotion. If it doesn’t work you can go back
to your main work. They want to have female role models and mentoring. How can the culture
change? How woman can help other woman. If you want to be a Chief, think further ahead and
make a plan for your leadership about 10 years ahead (even if it doesn’t happen that way its best to
have a plan). You need both a career plan and a family plan as they will need to complement each
other for it to work for you. If you stand strong, people will have respect for you (do it your way and
stand for your beliefs)
The presentation is in Swedish but it will be translated.
Woman leaders should pick the girls down. In some systems they need woman in higher ranks.
There are always woman who don’t want to go in higher ranks.
Every country has his own physical tests. Discussion about that.
We shared some interesting video’s about girls/females/diversity
Pantene 'Sorry, Not Sorry' Commercial
VRU wervingsfilm - Kraamverzorgende
All that we share TV2 Denmark
A Class That Turned Around Kids' Assumptions of Gender Roles!
Lunch break and afterwards an interesting tour through the “Feurwehr museum”
Presentation by Mona of the results from the survey about bullying and harassments.
We should collect all kind of examples so that it stays anonymous from who it comes and which
country. This is a good way to learn and improve education on respect and appropriate behaviours
in the workplace.
Some of the attendants have done workshops about this topic and experiences on that were shared.
Good discussion and #metoo movement and how it was (or was not) an influence in each Country
and what lessons we are learning from each other on how important it is to call out and
appropriately address bad behaviour around sexual harassment for all genders. Recognition that this
is an issue everywhere (even if we are not hearing it yet) and we must be proactive.
Mira about Communication:
Is Facebook, WhatsApp, CTIF page enough?
An open Facebook page or Instagram.
(Michelle, Pierette, Annick, Sheila, Viktoria, Mona, Mira, Saskia – the rest left already)
Are there volunteers to update the social media tools?
Everybody can share news in our CTIF WhatsApp group or send it directly to Mona, Mira or Sheila to
Sheila, Mona and Mira will be doing the administration of the new “open” Facebook site.
Sheila mentioned that CFOA in Ireland are interested in supporting a research project and welcomes
any feedback or suggestions (there may be a link that could be made to some of the survey work
already completed etc.).
It would be a good idea to choose and divide subjects, so the participants can prepare, and send
questions and information in advance to the other members.
Ellen would like to prepare the topic 'health monitoring' for next year.
Election of chair, secretary and adjudicators for the next meeting.
39 member countries can nominate a candidate.
Tore Eriksson (President of CTIF) will come to our next meeting.
The chair and vice chair can point someone.
Mira tried to contact Portugal and Hungary but it takes time to get in contact.
Suggestion the Netherlands May or June 2019
Present the new members /visitors of the next meeting via the website or the WhatsApp
group, that will save some time during the meeting.
All members send a photo and a short profile to Mona.
For those who already done this in the past, if this is not on the website, please send it again
to Mona please. There were previous problems with the website but that is solved now.
Björn Ufsson (Communications Coordinator & Media Producer) will put this on the website.
Think about subjects to fill the agenda.
Subjects for a survey, think about it.
Share information for the new “open” CTIF Facebook group to Sheila, Mona or Mira.
Who wants to participate the International investigation about the fitting of the importance
of the masks?
The meeting closed at 15.45 hours
Mira Leinonen, Finland
Mona Hjortzberg, Sweden
Viktoria Zechmeister, Austria
Ruzica Belanovic, Serbia (first day)
Janja Kramer Stajnko, Slovenia
Steffi Bergmann, Germany (first day)
Sheila Broderick, Ireland
Annick Baustert, Luxembourg
Pierrette Goedert, Luxembourg
Veronique Fouquier, France
Philippine Puvis, France
Michelle Young, Australia
Clara Latorre Gasull, Spain
Saskia Pouw, The Netherlands
Ellen Buskens (via Skype)
15th meeting The Netherlands, spring 2019
16th meeting ?
17th meeting France, Spring 2020
18th meeting Hanover, Germany, October 2020
Vienna, 28 November – Saskia Pouw