Women in LAFD

Some consider fighting fires to be a man's job, but as long ago as the bucket brigades of the 19th century, women have bravely played an important-if sometimes invisible-role in firefighting.

With the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, it became illegal for fire departments to prevent women from applying for jobs as firefighters. Women who answered the call have struggled! They have overcome ill-fitting equipment, derision from male colleagues and outcast status in the firehouse. In spite of these issues, women have continued to make great strides in the profession since the days of the bucket brigades.

According to Women in the Fire Service, as of 2005, there were approximately 6,160 women career firefighters in the United States and 28 fire departments with women as their top-level chief. Women of the LAFD are proud to be among them.

Although women have worked in an administrative capacity with the LAFD for decades, uniformed women joined the LAFD first as Paramedics in 1978 and as Firefighters in 1983. Officially, 2003 marked 25 years of service for uniformed women of the Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD). The single acts of courage demonstrated by those who opened the doors to women over a quarter of a century ago have had long term and far reaching social impact.

Currently, women perform at virtually all levels in the Department. They hold positions of Firefighter, Firefighter/Paramedic, Diver, Emergency Dispatcher, Engineer, Apparatus Operator, Fire Inspector, Captain I and Captain II, Battalion Chief, and Deputy Chief. Women play integral roles as part of special operation teams that respond to structural collapse across the nation and Incident Management Teams that coordinate citywide response and recovery under the direction of the Mayor. Additionally, women have served the community beyond their fire and rescue response activities Women have established and lead arts council, museums, and youth mentoring programs; participated in establishing and implementing national fire service standards and educational programs; trained internationally recognized search and rescue dogs; and are recipients of the Medal of Valor, Women of Courage and Community Protector awards for outstanding community service.

The call to be an emergency response public safety professional requires strength - both mental and physical, dedication, determination, talent and drive. The Women of the Los Angeles Fire Department epitomize these traits. As the women of the LAFD approach 35 years of service, it is important to acknowledge the commitment of the Los Angeles Fire Department to the development of women on the job, the courage of the pioneering women of the LAFD, and the significance of their outstanding service for over a quarter of a century.

Thank you for visiting our website and celebrating the pioneering women of the Los Angeles Fire Department.

  • Track the history of women firefighters, from 1818 until today, and learn more about the pioneers of the profession by taking a look at this pictorial timeline
  • To find out more about the rich history of women in Fire Service, visit www.i-women.org
  • To learn about women in the Los Angeles Fire Department, visit http://lawfs.org/