ACT News

ACT Fire and Rescue starts female recruitment drive

The ACT has become the first jurisdiction in Australia to employ affirmative action in its firefighter recruitment process.

Applications for ACT Fire and Rescue's recruit college opened on Monday, with half of its 16 places set aside for women.

Station officer Gina Kikos says female applicants will get no favours during the tough selection process.
Station officer Gina Kikos says female applicants will get no favours during the tough selection process. Photo: Elesa Kurtz

There are currently six women firefighters in a force of more than 300.

The college will begin in June with applications to close on February 14.

ACT Fire and Rescue came under fire in 2014 after an investigation revealed bullying and sexism was rife within the service.

Then emergency services minister Joy Burch announced the move to improve female representation within firefighter ranks in November last year.

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ACT Fire and Rescue chief officer Mark Brown said they're optimistic that they'll attract a large number of women over the next few weeks.

"We've had about 300 people come to our information sessions and a large proportion of those have been women," he said.

''The selection process is very strenuous, it's very difficult to get through, but we're hoping with a large number of applicants we'll get more females making it through to the final pool."

Mr Brown said while the fitness component is where a lot of potential firefighters get stuck, there areĀ a range of cognitive and psychometric tests applicants must go through.

"It's not all about the physical but they physical tends to be one of the hardest parts," he said.

"Women haven't necessarily seen firefighting as a career [for them] so it's about breaking down those stereotypes and showing them women can be firefighters."

Station officer Gina Kikos said part of breaking down those stereotypes has been increasing the prevalence of women in their marketing material.

Ms Kikos said female applicants would receive no special treatment when it came to the tough selection process.

"This is not an easy job and it's not suited to everybody. We don't have barriers as such, it's just not the type of work everybody wants to do. It's like not everyone wants to be a nurse or a teacher," she said.

"As a station officer I look at firefighters doing a job, not so much as males and females, which is why our recruitment process is so stringent."