Number of female firefighters on the rise in the Ozarks

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ROGERSVILLE, Mo. (KY3/KSPR) - Since fire stations were created nearly 40-years ago, the firefighting profession has been predominantly male. Things are changing across the nation with more females joining the industry. That means changes for fire stations, as they work to make their facilities more inclusive to women.

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) estimated more than 10% of career firefighters are female. The Logan-Rogersville Fire Protection District is just one of the many fire stations in the nation with female firefighters.

One being Cheyenne Forshey, who has been a firefighter with Logan-Rogersville since June of 2019. Currently, five out of twelve Logan-Rogersville volunteer firefighters are female. However, Forshey is one of only two paid female firefighters in the district out of 27.

"We're not guaranteed the same muscle or ability as males," explained Forshey. She said women have to work twice as hard in the firefighting industry. She added it takes a specific mindset and personality type to be able to do the job.

Fire Chief Richard Stirts said the job in general isn't easy and takes a degree of strength that many may not realize. "If your heart's into it, at the end of the day, you can get it done," said Chief Stirts.

With the right mindset, personality, and heart, Forshey said she believes anyone can chase their dreams and the rest will follow. "You might not have the strength, but you build the strength over time," she began. "You build that sense of self-worth and the fact that you're apart of something bigger than you."

As the industry grows, the need for inclusion has grown too. Chief Stirts said the newest Logan-Rogersville station has both shared and individual bunkers. Which he said gives a better quality of sleep and life. He said there are also unisex restrooms. Stirts said everyone knows what to expect and to respect each other.

Stirts said while facilities across the nation are adjusting, the most significant struggle may be within families. "I think it's hard for either the wife or the husband to realize that they're in a room and same bunk room with the opposite sex," said Chief Stirts. "I think that's the wear and tear we really have to be aware of, it's the cognizant impact it has on the family life."

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