Breaking another glass ceiling: First female firefighters' batch of Kerala on the way

Our Correspondent

Representative Image | Photo: AP

What image crops up in one's mind while thinking of the fearless saviours, who rush through the mammoth beams of fire? Definitely, a strong muscular man in his khaki uniform and red cap. However, Kerala Fire and Rescue Services is all set to take a new leap by breaking this gendered stereotype through the induction of its first female batch into its hitherto-men ruling space.

Though women have built their citadels in almost all realms, the fire and service department remained a male bastion. They are the first respondents to a disaster call and hence required to possess remarkable physical and mental agility. Thiruvananthapuram native Remya Sreekantan, who was the first South Indian female firefighter appointed by the Airport Authority of India in Chennai Airport had already set history in 2019. Being a person who was never into sports, her entry into the career of a firefighter was a breakthrough, inspiring more women into this career.

For its first female batch of the Fire and Safety Services in Kerala, the department looks forward to recruiting as many as 100 women firefighters both for office and fieldwork. The selected candidates will have to go through six months of rigorous academic training followed by another six months of office training, reports the Kozhikode district fire officer Ashraf Ali KM. Meanwhile, the curriculum for the training of the initial female firefighters' batch has not been decided yet.

Graphical representation of a women firefighter | Graphics: Mathrubhumi

As the department is nearing to appoint its first female firefighters after 60 years of long wait, certain candidates have expressed their concerns regarding the swimming tests in which no relaxation was given. The swimming test constituted the third phase of recruitment after a written examination and a physical test. In accordance with the physical tests of other uniform posts, the female candidates got relaxation during the physical examination conducted for the first female firefighters' batch also. However, the swimming tests turned up really tough for many of them with 50 metre swimming within a time limit of 2 minutes and 15 seconds along with 2-minute floating test. The department has given 15 seconds of relaxation in the swimming category for women candidates while compared to their male counterparts. At the same time, the 2 minutes floating test is on par with the test for male candidates.

When the Public Service Commission released the initial notification for the female firefighters' batch, only swimming knowledge was prescribed as the criteria for selection. But the notice of detailed swimming and floating tests published after the physical test left many of the candidates in a quandary as there was only less than a month to hone their swimming skills.

According to the Public Relations Officer of PSC, the detailed criteria of the tests are determined in consultation with the higher authorities in the department to which the recruitment takes place. It is not mandatory to set forth the entire selection process in the initial notification. However, elaborating the tests will be considered if any candidates approach PSC with a formal complaint, PSC informed Mathrubhumi.

At a time when Kerala witnessed the potential and commitment of the Fire and Service officials through their arduous efforts in putting out the fire at the Brahmapuram waste treatment plant, the first female batch of the department is awaited with high expectations.

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