• Sweden's news in English
Don't let size fool you! Meet Sweden's tiniest firefighter
Louise Carlsson, part-time firefighter. Photo: Private

Don't let size fool you! Meet Sweden's tiniest firefighter

Emma Löfgren · 8 Sep 2016, 12:40

Published: 08 Sep 2016 12:40 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Carlsson's story began when she quit smoking in 2012 and started to work out instead. Four years later, the full-time office worker in public procurement decided she wanted to put her new strength to practical use, so she applied to join Sweden's fire and rescue service on a part-time basis.

But passing the arduous tests to be accepted onto the team was no mean feat.

"It was difficult, but I had been working out for four years so I had already built up a lot of muscles. I applied for the job in February, and I've been working since May this year," she tells The Local.

The protective clothing alone weighs around 23 kilos, half of Carlsson's own body weight, and compared to the rest of the crew at Bengtsfors station, she admits she cuts a short figure. The 37-year-old reveals her size has sparked a few raised eyebrows while out on the field, but loves her work and the camaraderie.

"On my station they have been great, all of them. No problems. I've done and passed exactly the same tests as they once have, I'm on the same level as them. Everyone's been great," she says.

Carlsson and her colleague Sasa Domic. Photo: Private 

But although Carlsson demonstrably has the physical strength to handle the job, she insists the firefighter vocation is about more than just muscles and body mass.

"You don't just need to be strong, you need to have the right techniques for carrying, for lifting, for carrying big hoses, there's a lot of technique, it's not only about being strong," she explains.

Her first job was a call-out to a forest fire, which saw her and the team battle the blaze for 13 hours straight. But although she says she has not yet had to face the classic scenario most people imagine when they think of firefighters – boldly running into burning buildings to save someone's life – she will be ready when it comes.

"I know that I will have this kind of situation sooner or later and I don't think you can prepare. When I'm on call, you know, it's a role, it's not me as my person, it's a role and I have to act, I have to do my job, that's what I'm hired for," she says.

Carlsson became a firefighter in May 2016. Photo: Private

Story continues below…

Carlsson's story has grabbed headlines in Sweden and she was first interviewed by Gothenburg-based regional newspaper GT. Herself a mum of two teenage daughters, she says she hopes it can help break down barriers, so that gender stereotypes or prejudice don't stop people from following their dreams.

"If I can be a role model that would be great. You need to try, I think everyone can do it if they want to. You know, I'm not even one-and-a-half metres, so if I can do it..." laughs Carlsson.

"The best advice: just do it! The best way to get what you want is to decide what you want and just go for it!"

Interview by The Local's intern Jack Schofield.

For more news from Sweden, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Emma Löfgren (emma.lofgren@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Today's headlines
Sweden: Russian warships in the Baltic 'worrying'
Swedish Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist. Photo: Vilhelm Stokstad/TT

Two Russian warships equipped with long-range missiles have entered the Baltic Sea after passing Denmark.

Why businesses are worried about Sweden's drone ban
A drone filming in Stockholm. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT

The Local investigates what Sweden's new drone ban could mean for businesses in the country.

This is the new top boss of Swedish Ericsson
Börje Ekholm. Photo: Magnus Hjalmarson Neideman/SvD/TT

Telecoms giant Ericsson has appointed a new CEO after a turbulent year for the company.

These are Sweden's best universities: ranking
A new university ranking has been released. Photo: Cecilia Larsson Lantz/Imagebank.sweden.se

At least according to this global ranking, which picks 12 Swedish universities among the top-1000.

Swedish pharmacies restrict paracetamol sales for teens
The move is intended to cut paracetamol overdoses. Photo: Nora Lorek/TT

Sweden's pharmacies are banning teens under 18 from buying more than one pack of pills at a time.

The Local List
12 Swedish words with just awesome literal translations
A filthy-minded lobster, i.e. a snuskhummer. Photo: Gorm Kallestad/NTB scanpix/TT

One of our favourite things about the Swedish language is its wonderful compound words, which range from being utterly bizarre to making perfect sense.

Rwandan genocide suspect held in Sweden
A memorial centre in Kigali, Rwanda. Photo: Ben Curtis/AP

A man has been arrested in Sweden suspected of involvement in the 1994 Rwandan genocide which claimed 800,000 lives.

Sweden can extend border controls, EU says
A police officer carrying out a check at Sweden's border with Denmark. Photo: Emil Langvad/TT

EU countries including Sweden should be granted permission to extend temporary border controls by a period of a further three months, the European Commission has decided.

Nobel Prizes
'I'd say he's arrogant but I'd be lying': Swedes on Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan performing in France. Photo: David Vincent/AP

Almost two weeks have passed since Bob Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature and he has yet to acknowledge the win. The Local asked Swedes what they think of the singer's silence.

Sweden cuts 2016 refugee forecast by thousands
A Swedish migration authority office in Stockholm. Photo: Maja Suslin/TT

The country has also slashed its prediction for 2017.

Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Property of the week: Kungsholmen, Stockholm
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Will Swedes soon be looking for fairtrade porn?
The Local Voices
'I simply don’t believe in nationality'
Blog updates

6 October

10 useful hjälpverb (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! I think the so-called “hjalpverb” (auxiliary verbs in English) are a good way to get…" READ »


8 July

Editor’s blog, July 8th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hej readers, It has, as always, been a bizarre, serious and hilarious week in Sweden. You…" READ »

Sponsored Article
This is Malmö: Football capital of Sweden
Why we're convinced Game of Thrones is based on Sweden
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
People-watching: October 21st-23rd
Fury at plans that 'threaten the IB's survival' in Sweden
Analysis & Opinion
Are we just going to let half the country die?
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
Angry elk chases Swede up a lamp post
Sponsored Article
Swedish for programmers: 'It changed my life'
The Local Voices
'Alienation in Sweden feels better: I find myself a stranger among scores of aliens'
People-watching: October 20th
Sponsored Article
Top 7 tips to help you learn Swedish
The Local Voices
A layover at Qatar airport brought this Swedish-Kenyan couple together - now they're heading for marriage
Sponsored Article
‘Extremism can't be defeated on the battlefield alone’
Swede punches clown that scared his grandmother
Fans throw flares and enter pitch in Swedish football riot
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Could Swedish blood test solve 'Making a Murderer'?
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
Property of the week: Linnéstaden, Gothenburg
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
Swedish school to build gender neutral changing room
Sponsored Article
One expat's strategy for making friends in Stockholm
People-watching: October 14th-16th
Sponsored Article
Nordic fashion in focus at Stockholm University
Man in Sweden assaulted by clowns with broken bottle
Nobel Prize 2016: Literature
Watch the man who discovered Bob Dylan react to his Nobel Prize win
Record numbers emigrating from Sweden
People-watching: October 12th
The Local Voices
'Swedish startups should embrace newcomers' talents - there's nothing to fear'
How far right are the Sweden Democrats?
Property of the week: Triangeln, Malmö
Sweden unveils Europe's first elk hut
The Local Voices
Syria's White Helmets: The Nobel Peace Prize would have meant a lot, but pulling a child from rubble is the greatest reward
jobs available