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Young girl meets her firefighting idols on International Women's Day

Female firefighters at West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (WYFRS) are inspiring the next generation to learn that the fire service is a career for everyone, not just boys - after a young girl was told the opposite.

Five-year-old Grace's classmate told her that girls can't be firefighters after she described how she dreamt of working in the service when she grew up.

Credit: ITV Calendar

A young boy said she couldn't - because 'firefighters are men.' Grace's mum, Frankie, said:

She's always had a strong interest in fire trucks and fire engines - even as a baby she loved it when fire engines used to go past! "She's got all the costumes and uniforms at home, anything fire-related, even a massive toy fire truck!

"Then at pre-school when she was four there were a series of different career days, with various speakers.

"One week the fire service came - and she was so excited! As part of the visit they asked the class who wanted to be a firefighter - and she was among those who put up their hands. But then another little boy said she couldn't be because she wasn't a man."

– Grace's mum, Frankie

But Grace wasn't going to be defeated by such a comment - and was quick to stand up for herself!

Frankie added:

"She told him straight out that that wasn't right and firefighters could be boys or girls! As a mum I work in a male dominated industry - so I'm not surprised, but I'm proud of her. We're very equal opportunity at home - my husband and I shared parental leave and we split chores equally - anything we can do to promote equality to Grace and her brother."

– Grace's mum, Frankie

To celebrate Grace's dreams she is going along to Ilkley Fire Station on International Women's Day to see the equipment and meet Danielle and Emma - who are both firefighters with West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service.

Danielle is a new recruit who won the Top Trainee award at her graduation ceremony last year.

She also appears alongside other female firefighters in WYFRS' brand new video being released for International Women's Day.

WYFRS currently employs 61 operational female firefighters who make up 5.5% of the operational workforce.

Deputy Chief Fire Officer Dave Walton said:

We work hard as a brigade to promote the role of a firefighter to both men and women as we aim to have a diverse workforce that represents the communities that we serve.

"The women we employ have passed the exact same tests as the men - and are just as capable of doing the job of a firefighter.

"Sadly, we are sometimes working against outdated terminology such a 'fireman,' a job title that no longer exists and has not done so for many years but is perpetuated, often by the media. We believe this can give the wrong impression that this is a job for just males.

"It's important that we all give young children the correct messages so they can fulfil their potential. We have been vocal in the media to support the firefighting sexism campaign, started by London Fire Brigade, and we will continue to promote the message that the fire service is a place for all."

– Dave Walton

Frankie said Grace is really looking forward to her visit.

She said:

"She knows all about the visit as part of International Women's Day and she is very excited. If it inspires her to want to go on to pursue a career in the fire service, I'd be very proud, it's an incredibly brave job - she sees it as being a real life superhero!"

– Grace's mum, Frankie