Firefighting has traditionally been a male-dominated domain but Warkworth automotive technician Kelly Andrews, of STR Automotive, was never going to let that hold her back.
Ever since she was a child she wanted to be a firefighter and may well have chosen it as a full-time career, except for an even stronger passion for working on cars.
Today, Kelly is Warkworth Volunteer Fire Brigade’s first female senior firefighter and is currently studying to become its first female station officer.
The Warkworth Brigade recruited its first female firefighter in 1995 and Kelly says the fire service as a whole is becoming more and more receptive to women.
“There’s not a job in the fire service a woman can’t do. There’s been women chiefs and station officers all over the place,” she says.
If there is one continuing irritation for her, it’s that men often rush over to help women during callouts.
“They would be better to back off and let us do our job,” she says.
Moreover, Kelly believes women bring a lot of additional strengths to the job.
“We are pretty good at patient care – especially when there are kids or females involved in accidents. We bring a lot of empathy.”
Kelly says women thinking of becoming firefighters should “go for it”, but they should definitely do it for the love and not for the glory.
“You get the odd person who does it for the glory, but they are just show ponies really – just there to puff their chest out. Fortunately, there are no show ponies in our brigade.”