Local female firefighters respond to national ruling that women firefighters should have private quarters, bathrooms; uniforms that fit properly

Equal treatment for female firefighters.

A court ruling last week says both genders should have the same opportunities.

2 firefighters in the Midwest filed a lawsuit and won.

The women claimed they didn't have access to the same equipment as the men, and were forced to share bathrooms and bedrooms.

News 12's Stephanie Baker is on your side with what this means for our local fire departments.

When the alarm goes off, their speed can save a house...or a life.

It's Amy Burrus' job to drive the truck.

"Everything's equal, I have the same opportunities they do as far as on the fire ground," Burrus says.

Unlike the women who filed the lawsuit, she's never had a problem with her gear fitting, or with discrimination.

For Amy and Columbia County's other paid female firefighter, Allison English, the biggest challenge is physical.

"A lot of us don't have the same skills, we don't know how to operate a chainsaw, swing an ax, and things like that...so a lot of that was an adjustment for me," says Burrus.

"I don't want to be the weakest link," English says. "I want to be able to pull my own weight and do what they expect."

"They can do the same job we do, and they've proven that," says fellow firefighter Tim Rupert.

And the ruling handed down by the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will give women across the country the same chance Amy and Allison get.

The three judge panel said clothes that fit and clean, private facilities are essential to the job, and that not having them can be dangerous.

At Amy's station they have two bathrooms and one shower.

"We just lock the door," says Burrus. "The bedroom is sectioned off, so you have some privacy."

Nothing to distract them from the challenge of fighting fires.

"You do have to be strong...and have endurance," Burrus says.

"I want them to be assured I'm there, and they're there for me," says English. "It's a brotherhood."

A brotherhood that includes some strong sisters.

This ruling sets an example and encourages departments across the country to give women equal treatment. North Augusta Public Safety hired its first woman in 1980. Richmond and Columbia counties did the same in the mid 90s.


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