Estevan Fire and Rescue currently have more female firefighters than ever before with four on the crew.
Mallory Capelle and Annie Bizier had different experiences joining the fire department.
Capelle considered becoming a volunteer after high school, but was unable to because of her job commitments. When she moved to Estevan, she decided to go for it.
Before being hired on, Capelle underwent a couple tests to ensure she wasn’t afraid of heights and was physically able to do the job. The rest of the training was done in-house. She has now been part of the fire and rescue team for 11 years.
Bizier was a personal trainer and worked as a civilian doing training in the military in Ontario. She was inspired to become a firefighter after watching her husband working as a med-tech, and who now works as a police officer.
She took part in the new recruit program and underwent 80 hours of training.
On Tuesdays, there were in-person training sessions to ensure all materials were clear. A practical exercise is usually followed to ensure the translation from paper into practice.
“If you read about extrication tools, we would do an extrication exercise,” said Bizier. “We’d completely demolish a car."
“It wasn’t quite that way when I started,” said Capelle. “But it’s a nice program they have added.”
Capelle explained that the training is spread out over a year where you train on weeknights and weekends.
“Then you go test with the fire commissioner, and they do the big test, and you get certified as 1250,” said Capelle. “Which is the same certification as coming out of college.
Last month the Marianne Boychuk Women in Firefighting Scholarship was launched out of Yorkton. The $10,000 scholarship is for women who wish to attend the Saskatchewan Emergency Response Institution (SERI) and are pursuing a career in firefighting.
While Capelle and Bizier would have loved to take advantage of the scholarship, they are happy with how their firefighting journey went.
Capelle said that five years ago she would have been extremely interested, as she considered applying to bigger centers like Edmonton or Calgary.
“Where I’m at in my life now, I’m glad I got the volunteer aspect out of it,” said Capelle.
Biezer said that she was happy with her training because it allowed her to spend time with the entire department. It also allowed her the opportunity to bond with other recruits who got hired at the same time.
Both offered some advice for other women who are considering getting into firefighting as a volunteer or as a full-time profession.
“It’s extremely empowering,” said Bizier. “I mean go for it, have fun with it, and just don’t second guess yourself.”
“If you want to do it, do it,” said Capelle. “Don’t be scared, just go in, get your feet wet, and enjoy.”
Bizier said that a common misconception is that women think they must go in and be one of the guys and be able to hold their own.
"They have their strengths, and you know everybody has their weaknesses and they're all different," said Bizier." So when you come together as a team, you can get it done no matter what."
“It’s definitely a brother and sisterhood,” said Capelle. “Definitely like a family.”