Since the 1940s, women in New Zealand have played an active role in the provision of urban and rural fire services. However, over 75 years later only 3 per cent of all career firefighters, and 14 per cent of volunteer firefighters are women.
Women firefighters are a minority in what is largely a male dominated sector, and as a consequence can suffer isolation often being the only women assigned to a station or in a crew.
One key way to help overcome this isolation is to provide opportunities for women to network with each other, to provide peer support and share experiences.
In 2001, a group of career female firefighters met in Auckland and formed the New Zealand Fire Service Women’s (NZFSW) committee, which aimed to address issues relating to women in the New Zealand Fire Service (NZFS). Unfortunately, in early 2005, the group became largely inactive.
In June 2015, female career and volunteer NZ Fire Service personnel from every region were invited to attend a meeting to discuss reviving the support group / women’s network.
This discussion resulted in the formation of Women in Fire and Emergency New Zealand (WFENZ).
WFENZ aims to connect New Zealand women in fire services to a community that promotes the participation and success of women in fire and emergency roles.
Promoting success and inspiring others through sharing our stories.
Providing opportunities to network and make connections with other women in fire and emergency roles.
Sharing ideas and advice, and discussing issues faced by women.
We have a programme of work underway that seeks to improve our ability to network, by setting up national and regional WFENZ committees.