Mira Leinonen, Chair of the CTIF Commission for Women in Fire & Rescue Services, speaking in the City of Barcelona.
07 Jan 2020

We have to break with the idea that firefighting is a craft just for men

- CTIF Women in Fire in Fire & Rescue made news on Firefighters Online in Barcelona


From November 11 to 13, Barcelona hosted the 16th edition of the meeting of the Women's Commission on Fire and Rescue Services of the CTIF International Association of Rescue and Fire Services.

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Cover Photo (Above) Mira Leinonen, Chair of the CTIF Commission for Women in Fire & Rescue Services, speaking in the City of Barcelona. 
This article was originally published in Spanish on the web page for  Fire Fighters Online, the local firefighting magazing for the City of Barcelona.  (Bombers en línia Revista digital dels Bombers de Barcelona.) Published for CTIF News by Björn Ulfsson, CTIF Communications Coordinator


Barcelona shieldDuring the first day an institutional reception took place in the Saló de Cent of the City Hall, with the presence of Albert Batlle , Deputy Mayor for Prevention and Security; Sara Berbel , municipal manager of Barcelona City Council, and Maite Casado , manager of Prevention and Security.

The city welcomed the participants, a group of firefighters representing nine countries: Canada, the United States, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Finland, Denmark, France and Sweden

Albert Batlle emphasized it as a priority objective to bring in more female firefighters to the Barcelona Fire Corps:  

"For the first time we have parity in the governing body in the municipal government; of the 38 directors of the City Council, we have 19 men and 19 women. Instead, the female presence is very unbalanced in the municipal police, where women are between the 12 and 13%, and it's almost anecdotal to Firefighters. That's why we will be campaigning specifically to recruit women for our Corps. It's a matter of actually wanting to change, both technical and operational. "

The figures support this need because only 6 of the 450 firefighters in Barcelona are women. There is only one firefighter, Clara Latorre, in the category of chief who  can direct the operation. In fact, there are only 1.3% of operating female firefighters and 3% of all management and health workers.

The Deputy Mayor also said that although the fire service is highly valued by the citizens, the women's vision should be given importance because a large proportion of the people who attend are women. 

"All of this is part of our desire to create a culture of prevention, a priority in which the women's vision is especially relevant," she said. 

Sara Berbel spoke of the importance of achieving parity and what needs to be done to achieve it: changing the traditional image of a firefighter and promoting a female image, and eliminating prejudice, as with the campaign "Bombera, why not?" He reminded the City Council that it has a gender equality protocol, but that good practices and learning from other countries need to be studied. "We must continue to work," he concluded.

The Finnish chair of the Women's Commission on Fire and Rescue Services of the CTIF, Mira Leinonen, spoke next, and emphasized the importance of this commission as a meeting point "for informing us, exchange tools and support each other. "


HazMat drill in Barcelona


Drill at the Port of Barcelona

On the 13th, firefighters attended a chemical accident drill at the Port of Barcelona, ​​with the participation of Laura Pérez, Deputy Mayor for Social Rights and Feminisms.

After the head of the Barcelona Fire Operations Division, Angel López , explained the operational part of the drill, the chemical risk procedure and action was applied, with a two-stage intervention: a first to carry out the rescue, contain the danger and carry out the rescue; and a second one to put into effect the system of application and management of the information of firefighters in major emergencies.

In total, 10 vehicles and 30 people participated in the drill. 


The CTIF Commission for Women in Fire & Rescue meeting in Barcelona November 2019.


"You have to break with the idea that firefighting is a craft for men"

The goal of the CTIF Commission for Women in Rescue and Fire Services is to promote inclusive fire and rescue services for all women, improve working conditions for all women within those services and make fire and rescue services rescue are more attractive. In this way, women want to be applied for and become operational firefighters, and they continue to have the support to stay in the profession, as well as learn from different experiences, learn best practices, and encourage more countries to become members. assets of the Commission.

Therefore, throughout the meeting, the role of women in prevention, fire fighting and rescue services, their promotion to command posts and strategies for promoting women's access to women's bodies were discussed. rescue and fires.

Within the SPEIS, the meeting was evaluated very positively. For Clara Latorre, chief of staff and technician of the Operational Development Unit, was very enriching because "it was created a space for debate where representatives of different fire departments from different countries presented experiences that can be used to reflect on the lines of work that you have to go on.

"He believes that greater gender parity is needed to "establish synergies and improve efficiencies and returns". 

As firefighters serve a diverse society, it is logical to see that diversity reflected in endowments. For Latorre, however, this greater parity should be achieved on the basis of equality criteria and not on a quota basis. From their point of view, the problem lies in an educational theme and, in no case, in capacity. "

 We need to break with the idea that firefighting is a  men's crafts and that we have women firefighters, fully valid in the execution of all operational tasks. Policies are needed that empower women based on criteria of equality and merit, "she reflects.


CTIF Women Commission visiting at the City of Barcelona.


Ana Miguel Quesada , architect of the Operational Development Unit, emphasizes "the involvement of all participants and the topics discussed". 

The meeting provided an opportunity to share experiences and criteria of action that open new horizons of work. For her, it is essential that no measures be taken that in the long run can be viewed as discriminatory by the rest of the collective. 

"Respect for people must be above quotas and work must be done in favor of the valorization of capacities. This is the line in other countries," he emphasizes, adding that it is important to work with girls and boys from a very young age, with the purpose of creating a totally egalitarian vision, avoiding building mental barriers.

 "Without these mental barriers, the decision to choose to be a firefighter is more natural,"

For Víctor Molinet, chief of staff and technician of the Division of Civil Protection and Prevention, the meeting has served to make many SPEIS members aware of the work carried out by the CTIF Women's Commission on Rescue and Fire Services:

"We have been able to find out the situation of women in the fire departments of different countries, such as access testing and internal promotion, motherhood, adaptation of work clothes to female morphology, education and awareness of young people, fire park infrastructure or harassment. It coincides with the fact that the Fire Corps must reflect the society it serves and that strategies are needed to increase the presence of women", he said.

Mira Leionen speaking at the CTIF Women Commission meeting in Barcelona, November 2019.

 Mira Leinonen, Chair of the CTIF Commission for Women in Fire & Rescue Services, speaking at the meeting in Barcelona, November 2019.