Hayley Fraser.
Hayley Fraser.

WOMEN’S DAY: Celebrating Roma’s only female firefighter

Despite rushing into homes engulfed by flames carrying kilos of gear and taking charge in life and death situations, female firefighters have often been met with ignorant comments regarding their gender.

But those negative stereotypes are being extinguished according to Roma's only female firefighter in the Roma Auxiliary, Hayley Fraser who believes March 8, International Women's Day, is a day to celebrate how far women have come in the industry and to fight for discrimination against women in the workforce.

"To me, it also means a celebration of how far we have come in life in general … celebrating our strengths as a whole and that we're capable of much more than was ever thought," she said.

"There's no limit to what we, as women, can accomplish. Feminism isn't about making women strong. Women are already strong. It is about changing the way the world perceives that strength.

"So, here's to strong women - may we know them, may we be them and may raise them."

For over three years, Ms Fraser has dropped her ordinary life to help the community in times of need.

She commends the fire service throughout Australia who advocate for more women to join the service.

"In certain cities there are full crews of women only, which even just a few years back, was unheard of," Mrs Fraser said.

"The physical test to become a permanent firefighter has been changed so that women and men are both equal and I feel this was a huge step in giving women equal rights in this particular industry."

To be a role model for young girls, Ms Fraser said it's integral women are in the service, but also after attending a heart wrenching car accident that claimed the lives of two young children last year, she believes women are more equipped to handle certain duties.

"It shows them (young girls) if you work hard and want it, it's not unreachable," she said.

"I also think that there is a definite place for women on the fire ground … women have a higher emotional intelligence, which means that we are well suited to different roles."

Who inspires the woman who rushed through the biggest house fire she had ever seen on May St?

Her mother - "She inspires me every single day. She has had some huge knocks and each and every time, she comes up stronger and more resilient."

"She has taught my siblings and myself that being a woman doesn't mean that you can't be strong, that you can run a house hold on your own and do the maintenance required, and that at the end of the day no matter how tired you are, there is always plenty of love to go around.

"She has always believed that no matter what we wish to do, if we put our minds to it and work hard, then we can conquer the world."

After years rocking up to cattle truck rollovers, houses fires and gas leaks with a bunch of male fireys, Ms Fraser said it's imperative that other women don't let being a girl stop you from making career choices in male dominated fields.

"Have the confidence to chase your dreams, if you want to be a chippy, be a chippy … don't let others talk you out of it because you are female," she said.

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