Female firefighters blaze a trail

A hazard reduction burn in Scheyville National Park today is business as usual for NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) firefighting staff. However, there is cause for celebration as the operation marks the first hazard reduction burn with an all-female crew.

National parks fire management staff preforming fire hazard reduction burn

NPWS acting Executive Director of Park Operations, Naomi Stephens congratulated NPWS for providing equal employment opportunities and a supportive working environment for women.

“Working for the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service offers a vast range of opportunities for those looking for unique employment,” said Ms Stephens.

“Firefighting is just one of the many vital services provided by NPWS to protect local communities and wildlife.

“It is fantastic to see women thriving in a male-dominated field.

“While today may be the first time an all-female crew is running a hazard reduction burn, increasingly women have been playing a vital role in day to day NPWS firefighting.”

“Having an all-female managed burn highlights the growing number of women at NPWS taking on roles in the firefighting field.

“Although we have women in just about every different role when it comes to firefighting, we’ve never conducted an all-female burn before. It’s one thing to say that women are every bit as capable as men, but actions speak louder than words, so we decided to prove it. And it’s fantastic that women from the RFS and Fire and Rescue NSW are joining us on the burn today.

“20% of NPWS firefighters are female and women make up 23% of incident management specialists, which is significantly above the average in the fire and emergency sector.

“Any NPWS staff member is eligible to undertake training to become a firefighter and work with the teams on the ground conducting hazard reduction burns or fighting wildfires.

“It can be a lot of hard work in sometimes very difficult conditions, but it is great experience and very rewarding work.”

In 2017, NPWS joined the Fire and Emergency Sector Male Champions of Change program. The initiative aims to achieve gender equity and diverse and inclusive workplaces through changes in workplace culture. Recent NPWS achievements include increasing the number of female trainers and establishing a support network for female field officers.

The burn in Scheyville on Sunday is planned to reduce the risk of wildfires in the warmer months which could potentially impact neighbouring properties and to support the regeneration of the local native flora.

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