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New children’s book challenges gender stereotypes in firefighting

Firefighter Ruby is a new book aimed at educating and inspiring youngsters that both boys and girls can grow up to be Firefighters.

The book has been written by West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service’s Communications Manager, Emma Greenhalgh, in a bid to debunk the myth that only boys can be ‘Firemen.’

Its strapline is ‘Because Girls Can Be Heroes Too!’

Emma recently launched the book at Fairweather Green Fire Station where a group of young girls from the nearby Thornton Primary School came to take a look around and read the story.

The Year 2 pupils gave the book the thumbs up with one young girl even committing there and then to becoming a firefighter when she is older!

Emma, who is a former journalist, said: “It was lovely to see the girls’ reaction to the book, they really enjoyed the story and the illustrations and instantly got the book’s message.

“It’s hard to believe that even today some young girls are under the impression that firefighting is not a job they could do when they are older, which is sadly and wrongly closing doors in their minds to the profession at a very young age.

“Studies have suggested children decide ‘what they want to be when they grow up’ as young as five-years-old so I think it’s important they have a true picture of what is possible.

“I wanted to create an assertive female lead character who is a Firefighter and works alongside male Firefighters to show that they are ‘one family’ and one team. The book does not preach the message, but instead delivers it in a fun adventure story with some quirky characters.

“It encourages girls to believe in themselves and have determination and not let job stereotypes get in their way whatever they want to be!”

Women have been working as Firefighters in the UK since the late 1970s and even prior to that during World War Two they served in wartime services.

West Yorkshire currently has around 50 fantastic female firefighters who make up around 5% of wholetime operational staff – and anyone going through the recruitment process passes exactly the same entry tests regardless of gender or background.

West Yorkshire FRS has worked hard over the years to raise the profile of women in firefighting by highlighting role models through the media and at awareness events. The service has recently won a Chartered Institute of PR Award, and was shortlisted for an Inclusive Companies Award, for its campaigning to highlight the role of women in the Fire Service.

Deputy Chief Fire Officer Dave Walton said: “We thoroughly support having a diverse workforce which represents the diverse communities we serve. Whilst there have been many generations of fantastic and heroic Firemen throughout history, we urge people to use inclusive language, and the correct title of firefighter, so that future generations of children do not grow up believing that the Fire Service is a role than only men can undertake. Because girls can be heroes too!”

West Yorkshire FRS is currently recruiting on-call firefighters at 10 stations across the area and anyone wishing to find out more can do so via https://www.joinwyfirefighters.com/

Firefighter Ruby: Because Girls Can Be Heroes Too! is aimed at three to seven-year-olds and can be found on Facebook @FirefighterRuby, or for more information contact FirefighterRuby@gmail.com

#BecauseGirlsCanBeHeroesToo

What are on-call firefighters?

On-call firefighters are skilled people from all walks of life who provide cover at on-call fire stations. There are 10 on-call fire stations across West Yorkshire and the staff are required to live and/or work within five minutes of the station. Firefighters submit the hours they are available each week and respond to emergency calls as part of a highly motivated team, working on the front line protecting their communities. On-call firefighters are trained to the same standard as wholetime firefighters.