Ajman: It takes a great deal of self-confidence and determination to break social taboos regarding women’s roles in the community.
For 15 brave UAE national women who have joined the country’s first Women’s Firefighting Unit at Ajman Civil Defence, the opportunity was too good to pass by. Ajman Civil Defence has welcomed their very first 15 female firefighters in 43 years who will take on roles usually reserved for men. The group is believed to be a first in the UAE and the Middle East.
The new members told Gulf News that their passion to help others encouraged them to join the Civil Defence and they are hoping to inspire other young girls and women to break the stereotypes.
The department says they are excited to have them on the team. The women firefighters went through an intensive training course, comprising military training and training on job-related issues, before entering service. The firefighters thanked Lt-General Shaikh Saif Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, for giving them the opportunity. Ajman Civil Defence is providing them with all vital skills needed to perform their jobs.
The women were recruited according to certain conditions set by the Ministry of Interior. “These requirements were strictly adhered to when selecting the members for the women’s firefighting unit, although all are required to be of good health and physically fit,” he said.
Gulf News interviewed the firefighters and asked them about their achievements and challenges
Q: How was the experience as the only female member at the state level in civil defence, specifically in the firefighting profession?
A: Working in the firefighting profession is a very unique and interesting experience for the female. It is tiring and exhausting, and within a short period of working in this profession we gained strength, self-confidence and skills in civil defence work.
What challenges and difficulties did you face?
In the beginning, there was difficulty in adapting to work in closed spaces that lack oxygen while fighting fires and accidents, and enduring high temperatures during exercises and storming into confined and narrow spaces and staying for long periods of time.
Finally, the challenge of carrying fire and rescue equipment and survival equipment — from life jackets to oxygen cylinders that were very heavy. We are proud that we succeeded in overcoming all these obstacles, and today, thanks to that stage, we have greater fitness, skills and self-confidence.
What are the difficulties you faced during the firefighting process?
Among the most prominent difficulties that we face during the fire and rescue operation was evacuating the injured and trapped as a result of accidents in record time, in addition to the human aspect, which is to save the lives of those injured in these accidents.
Do you have the desire to complete the journey or would you prefer another career that is quieter and more demanding of physical and muscular effort?
We never want to leave the profession. We have ambitions and we want to develop ourselves in the profession of firefighter.
Have you succeeded in creating a balance between your career and your commitments as a female and housewife?
Yes, we believe that this adaptation has taken its course and things have become smooth and the coordination between work and home is at its best.
Tell us about humanitarian cases that have been dealt with.
First officer Maitha Khaled Al Khayyat: “I dealt with a fire accident in an apartment building, and a mother and her two children were stranded in their apartment. The mother was in a state of severe panic and refused the help of firefighters to leaving the apartment door or window via the emergency fire escape ladder. After negotiations we persuaded her to cooperate and allow us to help her and the two girls. She handed the two girls over to us and went out through the window, where the hydraulic ladder was connected to the snooker car, designated to rescue the trapped victims in such cases.