ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — St. Paul’s Fire Department is looking for more women to join its crew.
Right now, St. Paul has 430 sworn firefighters. Only 18 of them are women.
Twelve have been hired in the past 10 years but the department wants more women to serve its diverse community.
Reg Chapman spoke with two women who are making history in the Capitol City.
For seven years, Kate Heckaman has served the city of St. Paul as a firefighter.
“Growing up around the service I know what a great career it is, being able to help out the community and make a difference in people’s lives,” said Cpt. Kate Heckaman.
She watched her dad, grandpa and great grandpa work as firefighters, and now she takes an active role in recruiting women to the fire service.
“I can give women the tools and the resources to work out and to become more, to get more physically prepared for the job but they have to bring the heart, they have to bring the dedication that you need to be successful in this career,” Heckaman said.
“If you can get your mind to understand that you can do it and get over that then you can push through anything,” said Brittney Baker.
Cpt. Heckaman has been busy training recruit Brittney Baker, who officially became a firefighter three weeks ago.
“I think the more women that get hired, women that have been afraid in the past will probably start coming forward and be like, ‘OK, you know what, I see that they can do it. I can do it too if I just push hard enough,'” Baker said.
“Just simple words as we’ve labeled our profession firemen in the past. That alone creates an exclusive environment that we have to overcome,” Chief Inks said.
St. Paul Fire Chief Butch Inks says recruiting efforts begin in elementary schools.
The department has held women expos, and work out seminars to help women prepare for a career as a firefighter.
“If you want to make a difference in your community and you are a person that has the service before self attitude, we need you as a department and our community needs you,” said Chief Inks.
Chief Inx says the department’s recruiting efforts fall in line with one of Mayor Carter’s four pillars of community first public safety.
He hopes to add more women and diversity to the department so it can truly serve the city’s changing demographic.
Heckaman is the first female promoted to captain in five years, Baker, the first African-American female in the department in 10 years.