• Sweden edition
 
Firefighters fear female 'threat': study

Firefighters fear female 'threat': study

Published: 21 Jul 2011 11:25 GMT+02:00
Updated: 21 Jul 2011 11:25 GMT+02:00

“They are worried as to whether they’d be able to act as naturally around each other if there were women present in the ‘family life’ at the station,” said the study's author Mathias Ericson to The Local on Thursday.

According to the firefighters themselves it is this camaraderie, this closeness, which enables them to do the job they do – it breeds trust and understanding for each other.

According to Ericson, although most were sceptical to letting women into the male dominated community, there were generational differences between what was perceived as the problem.

The younger firefighters who had the physical recruitment tests fresh in mind, were worried that the women wouldn’t be able to perform their duties to the same standards as their male colleagues due to physical weakness.

The older, more experienced firefighters, some past their physical prime themselves, thought that it was the trust and closeness necessary for the group to function as a team that would be lost if there were women in their midst.

“The older firefighters were the most critical to the macho ideal that society ascribes firefighters, they’d play down the need for physical strength and emphasize the need to work as a team,” said Ericson.

The study showed, rather surprisingly, that firefighters in Sweden don’t necessarily see themselves as macho men, but rather thought that the expectation of a firefighter to be macho was rather silly.

However, they also thought that the image of the firefighter as a hero sometimes was useful to gain the trust and respect from the public.

The fire-fighting community that Ericson describes in his report is undergoing change, slowly but surely.

When he started the study in 2003, there were 10 female firefighters in Sweden. Today there are over 100.

“The question is just whether this will change the image of the firefighter or if it will be divided where the male remains the hero and the female will represent something else,“ he told The Local.

Ericson recently defended his doctoral thesis “Up Close. Masculinity, Intimacy and Community in Firefighters’ Work Teams” at Gothenburg University.

The thesis is based on interviews and observations from several different fire stations.

Rebecca Martin (rebecca.martin@thelocal.se)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

12:03 July 21, 2011 by axiom
simple fix, "don't ask, don't tell"

really i can't see the problem...
13:23 July 21, 2011 by jacquelinee
just more "Boys Club" bu-l sh-t.
13:48 July 21, 2011 by Iraniboy
Even in Iran there are female firefighters!
14:19 July 21, 2011 by Grokh
lol kick them out and have a just women firefighter then, i doubt the women will have problems working with men, so if the men have problems they can be unemployed xD.
14:40 July 21, 2011 by unseen
so woman can join the Army and police force, can handle situations in both war zones and crime world but a female can't work as a firefighter due to physical ability!!!???

silly, isn't it?
15:26 July 21, 2011 by calebian22
As long as there are not two standards for entrance requirements, women should be welcome. However the affirmative action lawsuit that is happening right now in Sweden , is proof that something stinks regarding the promotion of women ahead of more qualified men.
15:31 July 21, 2011 by J. L. Belmar
"They are worried as to whether they'd be able to act as naturally around each other if there were women present in the 'family life' at the station," said the study's author Mathias Ericson to The Local on Thursday.

Of course they would not be able to act as naturally around etc, etc. With women around, they would not be as horny as with women around. It is only a matter of understanding the phycology and sexual preferences of the majority of these brave "men".

Women have no problem at all. They would perform even better than many of the wimsy colleagues they would have.

And then, we men complain that women treat us like s... We are treating them like that and sometimes worse.
23:05 July 21, 2011 by Mark S.
The young guys should be careful what they wish for. We may BELIEVE that it is physical strength that is important. In that case, it is not man/woman that matters, but whether you can pass the strength test. Of course, you must re-take the strength test every 6 months or a year to prove that you are still strong enough. We know people naturally lose strength over time, even if they work out extensively.

The trust and closeness issue may be a problem, but only for a limited time. It is a problem because the men that are already there expect it to be a problem, so they feel uncomfortable with women. But the new people don't see the change. When you work with women your whole life (as I have), it isn't a big deal.
02:15 July 22, 2011 by Jailfire2002
I am a 59 year old American man and have been a professional firefighter for almost 24 years. I was married to a Swedish woman in the 80's. In the intervening years I have often returned to Sweden and on two occasions visited the Helsingborg FD. I found them to be an impressive group of men: knowledgeable, well-trained, physically fit and extremely capable.

The city I work for in is one of the poorest cities in America. It has a population of about 170,000 people jammed into about 8 square miles. I have been to 100s of fires in my career and have maintained my conditioning through the years out of respect for myself, the job I do and the community I serve.

About 7 years ago, the state I live in changed the requirements for obtaining the job in order to diversify the department. Since then 7 women have been hired.

When I took the test in the mid 1980s there was a pass/fail written exam which qualified one to take a physical test. One's subsequent placement on the physical test determined a candidate's rank on a hiring list: the score the applicant achieved counted for 100% of his grade. Hundreds of people- both men and women- would take the test and all were ranked according to their times. I was 34 when I took that test and I finished ahead of many younger men. In the many decades that this test was administered, no woman (and not many men) were able to finish high enough to be hired.

The test has since been radically changed and now the physical part of the test only counts for about 10% of an applicant's grade. The impact this change has had on the department has been significant.

None of the women currently on the job would have been hired under the standards established under the old test rules. There is no reason why citizens should be put in jeopardy (to say nothing of the firefighters themselves) in order to achieve some sort of sexual balance on a FD. I am NOT saying that a woman cannot do the job, only that they (or indeed any man who wants the job) should have to pass the same test I had to pass when I was hired.

Firefighting is an extremely labor intensive occupation. We have about 23 kilos of clothing and equipment on before we even pick up a tool or drag a charged fire hose into a burning building. Firefighting is not the same as police work: you cannot shoot at a fire.

If the same test existed when I was married to my Swedish wife in the 80's as does now, then she could/would have been the first female firefighter on the department. And she would have made a great firefighter because she was much more physically capable of doing the job than any of the women now employed- and at least some of the men (yes, there are men on the job who don't belong there either).

I would suggest that more stringent physical requirements be re-introduced to our testing procedures. I would be happy and proud to serve with ANYONE, male or female, who qualifies under those requirements.
02:15 July 22, 2011 by Kathi Peterson
My sister was happily married to a firefighter. Women were allowed into the department and within six months one of them was involved in an affair with my brother-in-law. Men and women share sleeping quarters and bathrooms. Divorces within the department have more than doubled since women were allowed to join the fire department. You connect the dots...
03:15 July 22, 2011 by Nifty
Anybody here over 85 kg?If so, picture yourself semi conscious from smoke inhalation lying on the floor of a burning house.Through the smoke you see a

FIREPERSON. Which sex do you want to see.Next stupid story...
03:20 July 22, 2011 by EP
I agree fully, the firehouse is no place for women
09:06 July 22, 2011 by calebian22
Exactly Nifty,

Do we want Mr. July swinging our unconscious selves over his shoulder with ease or an affirmative action promotion who dislocates our shoulder and gives us a concussion dragging us down a burning staircase because dragging instead of fireman carrying 75 kgs, 100 meters was the minimum requirement?
15:51 July 22, 2011 by MichaelZWilliamson
If a female can carry a 100kg man out of a burning building, I welcome her.

If she can accept the crass jokes and mindset without whining that entire generations of men need to change their culture to please poor little offended her, I welcome her.

There are some women who fit both criteria. We had a small handful in our military engineer unit. We also had one woman too small to move security barriers or lift some of our equipment, so it hindered where we assigned her. As great as she was at troubleshooting, she was a hindrance.

What can you expect for humor? That depends on how well she fits in, so to speak, with men who have big equipment, so to speak, and long hoses, so to speak, with which they cool down hot women, so to speak. There will be pinups in the locker room, masturbation jokes, etc.

It doesn't matter what you think of such humor. That's the nature of the culture. Either accept it, or go away. No, I really don't want to hear about why you think I'm wrong, or sexist (hint: My wife is perfectly capable of dealing with it and keeping her own sense of humor). If you move into an existing culture, you respect it, not insist it change to meet your own fetishes. Isn't that what a lot of Swedes are worried about with conservative Muslim immigrants?
18:23 July 22, 2011 by skylarkpilot
Oh dear.......Equality v Diversity

Right or wrong, in this day and age my moneys on Diversity winning the match.

Common sense would dictate that if there is a need for a physical test to get into a particular job then it should be the same for men and women. Unfortunately common sense left the building a while ago and shows no signs of returning.
04:50 July 23, 2011 by schmuck281
There's bound to be a conflict between men and women in close quarters.

When men get together with other men, they always talk about sex, and they always lie.

But women are much more vicious. When they get together with other women they always talk about sex too. But they tell the truth.

You can see where the conflict would arise.
Today's headlines
Music
The five best Swedish songs of the month
Swedish singer Tove Lo. Photot: TT

The five best Swedish songs of the month

The summer may be (almost) over but the music will keep on playing here at The Local. Our resident music guru Paul Connolly will be selecting his top new Swedish tracks for us in a new monthly feature. READ  

Hedgehog pet craze sweeps Sweden

Hedgehog pet craze sweeps Sweden

African pygmy hedgehogs are being bought by growing numbers of Swedes, as a trend for keeping exotic pets sweeps the country, the Department for Animal Welfare and Health tells The Local. READ  

Poisonous mushrooms cause stir in Sweden
The mushroom in this picture is not the same as the one from the story. Photo: Shutterstock

Poisonous mushrooms cause stir in Sweden

A person selling freshly-picked mushrooms in Gothenburg has come under fire after it turned out the delicacies were not only poisonous but also hallucinogenic. READ  

Pirate Bay founder case starts in confusion

Pirate Bay founder case starts in confusion

The largest hacking case in Danish history began in confusion on Tuesday, after lawyers representing Swedish Pirate Bay co-founder Gottfrid Svartholm Warg accused the prosecution of "unreasonable" tactics. READ  

Swedfund joins H&M in Ethiopia expansion

Swedfund joins H&M in Ethiopia expansion

As H&M expands into Ethiopia, Sweden's state venture capital unit Swedfund has announced that it will back the clothing giant, in a move hoped to create more jobs for local women. READ  

Elections 2014
Social Democrats reveal election manifesto
Photo: TT

Social Democrats reveal election manifesto

UPDATED: Sweden's main opposition party the Social Democrats has revealed its election manifesto at a press conference at a high school in Stockholm, with a key focus on education and welfare benefits. READ  

Teen run over by train after 'shoplifting' chase

Teen run over by train after 'shoplifting' chase

A teenage boy is in a critical condition after he was hit by a passing metro train in Stockholm. The accident ground rail traffic to a halt, and has police suspecting attempted murder. READ  

Swimrun
Record win at Sweden's tough island race
Photo: Jakob Edholm/ÖTILLÖ14

Record win at Sweden's tough island race

Two Swedes crushed last year's course record at the Swimrun world championship in Stockholm's archipelago on Monday. READ  

Sweden reveals Academy Award submission
Swedish director Ruben Östlund on set. Photo. TT

Sweden reveals Academy Award submission

The movie set to represent Sweden at the 2015 Academy Awards was revealed on Monday, a film that has already won awards abroad. READ  

Amphetamines
Hidden forest drug stash leads to prosecution

Hidden forest drug stash leads to prosecution

A 53-year-old man has been prosecuted after police in western Sweden made one of their largest drug seizures in the area. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Sponsored Article
Introducing… Insurance in Stockholm
National
Huge clear up underway after Skåne floods
Politics
Sweden's Alliance reveals full manifesto
Tech
Sweden's highest peak to lose title next year
Politics
How immigration became a key election issue
Blog updates

02 September

America night (Blogweiser) »

" There was an event this weekend for the ‘Americans in Sweden’ Facebook group. I’m a member, and I brought my girls to the evening. The gathering was at a Boston-themed sportsbar in a mall. There were loads of screens, a bowling alley, a game room and a jumbotron. It was as good a place as any to..." READ »

 

25 August

Hit och dit, här och där (The Swedish Teacher) »

" Hej igen! A common challenge for Swedish language students are the location adverbs hit/här, dit/där, hem/hemma etc. Some of the location adverbs come in two versions. We should use one type of location adverb when we use a verb describes where we are, and we should use the other type of location adverb when we the verb..." READ »

 
 
 
Society
Brit's life in Sweden becomes BBC radio show
Gallery
People-watching August 27
Gallery
Top ten false friends in Swedish
National
Roma advocate scoops Wallenberg prize
Society
Meet the man who made a Swedish store recall its high heels for kids
Business & Money
'How I came to run my own business in Sweden'
Politics
Expert explains why Sweden's election oozes uncertainty
National
City plays Schindler's List theme at Nazi rally
Society
For Stockholm Fashion Week, here's the A-Z of Swedish fashion
National
'Amnesiac' man avoids deportation for ten years
Gallery
Princess Estelle through the years
Business & Money
Swedish city all set for six-hour workday trial
Business & Money
Five golden rules for the Swedish job hunt
Sponsored Article
Graduates: Insure your income in Sweden with AEA
Gallery
People-watching August 22-24
National
Armed royal guards caught (very) drunk on the job
National
Sweden orders textbook on Roma discrimination
Gallery
Violent anti-Nazi demonstrations in Malmö
Society
A closer look at Sweden's five official minority languages
Gallery
See the destruction from the southern Sweden floods
Sponsored Article
Find out what gives this Swedish school executive appeal
Sponsored Article
Introducing...Your finances in Stockholm
Sponsored Article
Introducing...Housing in Stockholm
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

746
jobs available
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions is an innovative business company which provides valuable assistance with the Swedish Authorities, Swedish language practice and general communications. Call 073-100 47 81 or visit:
www.swedishdowntown.com
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at:
http://psdmedia.se