Sadly, because of gender stereotypes, many people think that being a firefighter is a ‘male job’. That’s not the case and anyone can become a firefighter, regardless of gender identity.
Here, Meghan Ratcliffe shares her story in the hopes of encouraging more females to join the fire service.
Meghan had been working for Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service in its control room for over a year when she decided she wanted to change things up. Instead of hearing about the incidents, she wanted to go out and respond to them.
Meghan, 22, said: “Working in the control room I got to see one side to the operation – taking calls, giving safety advice and working alongside firefighters – but I decided that I wanted to experience the other side of things, to get involved and make a real difference in my community.”
In 2020, she crossed the border over to Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service where she is now an On-Call Firefighter at Ashby Station.
She added: “Becoming an On-Call Firefighter is one of the best decisions I made. I was apprehensive at first but I just went for it and now I never look back. Every day and every incident you respond to is different. I find it very exciting!
“What I love most about the job is feeling like I’m part of a team, like I’m a part of something special and the work I’m doing is making a difference to people’s lives.”
But being the only female firefighter at the station, Meghan was initially apprehensive.
She recalled: “I remember thinking to myself: ‘I’m young and a woman – how will I fit in?’ Looking back, I couldn’t have been more wrong. We don’t see gender; we just see each other as colleagues. I fit straight in and I’ve never felt different or out of place here. We’re just like a family and that’s what matters.”
When asked what advice she’d give to aspiring female firefighters, Meghan said: “Just go for it! It’s always going to be scary to start with and you might feel like you can’t do it, but you can. If you’re hard-working and dedicated, you’ll do well.
“No-one lets you fall behind in the fire service. If you can’t get the hang of something, you just ask for help and keep trying and eventually you’ll get there.”
Day-to-day, Meghan still works in the control room for Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service and her on-call duties with Leicestershire mean she’s always busy, whether that be answering calls or fighting fires.
She said: “I’m so proud of myself for all I’ve accomplished since becoming an On-Call Firefighter, especially knowing that I am now paving the way for strong, driven women just like me.
“Sure, it’s been hard at times, but I wouldn’t change this experience for the world, it’s made me who I am today.”
We are currently recruiting for On-Call Firefighters across the Service, closing on Wednesday 17 February. Head to our recruitment page to find out more.
Notes to Editors:
Interviews can be arranged through prior arrangement with Corporate Communications on the details below.
About the Service
Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service provides emergency response, prevention and protection services from 20 stations across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland. Its headquarters is based in Birstall, Leicester.
During 2019/20, we attended a total of 8,541 emergency incidents, including 2,079 fires and 748 road traffic collisions. A total of 7,274 Home Safety Checks were completed and we fitted 4,720 smoke alarms. 305 schools were visited as part of the Service’s schools programme, delivering fire and road safety education to 26,218 pupils. Staff organised or took part in 1,218 community safety activities, totalling over 11,000 hours of time engaging with members of the public.
The Service’s prevention, education, enforcement and inspection programmes have resulted in significant reductions in the number of incidents. In the last ten years, fire-related incidents have reduced by over 30 percent.
Direct: 0116 210 5768