Shazia Parveen, Pakistan's first woman firefighter
Shazia Parveen, Pakistan's first woman firefighter, says though her job is a risky one, it is fulfilling too. Image Credit: Supplied

Islamabad: Shazia Parveen, from Punjab’s Vehari district, has the distinction of being Pakistan’s first female firefighter.

She joined the Rescue 1122 emergency service (Fire Wing) in 2010 and since then has taken part in a number of rescue operations and fire extinguishing expeditions — helping and rescuing people in difficult and dangerous situations.

Parveen says though it is a risky job, it is quite fulfilling as at the end of the day, one goes home with a feeling of satisfaction after helping people out in emergencies.

A profession by choice

While speaking to Gulf News, Shazia Parveen, 32, said girls and women are usually type-cast for professions such as teaching, nursing, medical sciences or some office work.

Shazia Parveen

However, in Parveen’s case, she was lucky to have the support of her father, late Rehmat Ullah, a former army man who had encouraged her to pursue her passion and be whatever she wanted to be. “When I told him that I wanted to join Pakistan’s premier rescue service Rescue 1122, he fully supported me,” said Parveen, whose father died last month.

Shazia, who is pursuing her Masters along with the job, said women in Pakistan are highly talented. They are physically strong and can make their mark in unconventional fields as well, apart from shining in traditional jobs.

When asked if she, as the only woman rescuer, ever faced any kind of difficulty or discrimination at work, she said she had the confidence and support of her entire team, particularly, Assistant Director (Fire), Ibrar Hussain. “We have an excellent work environment and I feel proud to be a member of the Rescue 1122 team,” said Parveen.

She said like nursing and medical care, rescue services are also suited for women’s aptitude and that they should not hesitate to join the profession.

From firefighter to fire instructor

Six years after joining Rescue 1122 in Vehari and taking part in various field operations, Parveen was promoted to Lead Fire Instructor and transferred to Lahore’s Rescue department at Thokar Niaz Baig.

Shazia Parveen

In Lahore, she is now training the new team members on the standard operating procedures for firefighting. “They include extinguishing fires, climbing high-rise buildings, rescuing and helping people in traumatic situations,” said Parveen.

There are three wings under Rescue 1122: Rescue, Fire and Medical Wing. All of them are challenging and test the team members’ physical and mental strength, commitment and resolve to take part in rescue operations, said added.