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What To Do When She Gets on Your Nerves

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By John Morse

Women in the fire service are becoming quite common.  Years ago women were visitors, but today we all live together.  There are a lot of differences in how we get along since the addition of female firefighters.  When a guy gets on your nerves, it is pretty easy to tell them you think they are a jerk.  Saying the exact same thing to a female could get you in a lot of trouble.

Before I go any further, I need to state that I am not in any way against females in the fire service.  I have worked with several females and find that there is not much difference in the number of difficult employees based on gender.

There are females I liked, females I didn’t like, and the same for men.  For every problem female firefighter, there are probably 4 guys that would cause me just as much aggravation.  The difference is how you handle your issues with a female.

Some of these issues are started when someone thinks that female firefighters deserve special treatment.  That someone could be the female firefighter, it could be the rest of the firefighters, or it could be the department administration.  This special treatment is wrong for a lot of reasons.

When any individual thinks they are entitled  to special treatment they are going to be disappointed.  No one deserves special treatment based on gender, race, or if your uncle is the Chief.  There are also instances where one or two firefighters decide that the female on the shift needs special treatment.  I won’t go into the reasons for this but the outcome is never good.

One of the worst situations is when the department administration decides that females need different treatment.  Sometimes administrators try to eliminate employee relation issues by pushing for special treatment for females.  No one ends up happy when this happens, especially the females.

One of the biggest arguments against females in the fire service is that a woman can’t physically do the job, especially later in their career.  There is no argument that as we get older it is harder to perform the physical aspects of the job.  If someone starts out with less strength, they will obviously be less likely to do the tough things.

The truth is that a lot of men can’t do these tough things as they get older either.  There are a lot of people that are old, out of shape, or for some other reason can’t do all things equal.  The good news is that everyone has things that they do better than anyone else.  Young guys might be stronger, but they might not be smarter.  What an older male, or female firefighter lack in strength, they will make up for in experience.  Unless all the old firefighters are on the same shift, things will balance out.

If you can’t talk to the females the same way you talk to the guys, maybe you should change the way you talk to the guys.  Just because we consider guys tougher, doesn’t mean we can call them idiots.  It shouldn’t matter who gets on your nerves for any reason, just treat everyone with respect, and in the same way.

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