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Cincinnati Fire Working To Improve Conditions For Female Firefighters

Ann Thompson

The Cincinnati Fire Department is working to improve the working environment for all of its firefighters, especially women.  
Fire Chief Roy Winston updated City Council's Law and Public safety committee Monday on those efforts.  

Winston highlighted a gender equity survey and also working with Women Helping Women, a group that works to prevent gender-based violence.

"We still have work to do," Winston said. "But I think just having that overall assessment of where things stand here in 2019 has been somewhat eye-opening for us as a command staff. But it helps us to see what we need to continue to do to make sure that culture begins to change and really for the benefit of all our employees."

From its founding in 1853 until 1984, the department was completely male.  

Right now there 48 female firefighters and 803 who are male. Winston said officials are working on recruiting.

"The only way you're going to change some of the thinking, some of the culture, is hopefully by changing some of the numbers," Winston said. "And so we've made it a concerted effort to go out and try to recruit as many females as well."

The agency has set up employee response groups to allow the sharing of information between women and senior command staff.

One area of particular concern is uniforms, which Winston said are designed for men.

"Right now we've been paying a tailor to make those adjustments," Winston said. "But hopefully in the future we would like to see where our uniform provider can get us some specs together where we actually can get female uniforms designed for our female firefighters so they can feel more comfortable in their uniforms."

The council committee is asking for a report in a month on what can be done to fix that problem.

Some efforts include changes to the department's sexual harassment policies and violence in the workplace. The department also established a mentoring program.

Officials are also focusing on relationships within the department and reviewing policies and procedure to make sure they account for the needs of female firefighters.


Jay Hanselman brings more than 10 years experience as a news anchor and reporter to 91.7 WVXU. He came to WVXU from WNKU, where he hosted the local broadcast of All Things Considered. Hanselman has been recognized for his reporting by the Kentucky AP Broadcasters Association, the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists, and the Ohio AP Broadcasters.