Increasing the Ranks of Women in Public Safety

By Mayor Tommy Battle

The City of Huntsville has been proactively working to expand opportunities for women in public safety. Historically, women have comprised a majority of the civilian support staff positions for police and fire, but few were sworn in as officers or certified firefighters. That is changing for the better.

A more equitable public safety team should include the presence of more women in the field. In the Huntsville Police and Fire Departments, our leadership teams have worked to recruit more women into their ranks. We recognize the benefits are numerous. Women are consistently rated as trusted by their communities and have high levels of interpersonal communication skills. Studies show female officers are adept at diffusing tense situations and bring a sense of stability to their male counterparts.

While physical strength and technical skills to confront fires are essential to Fire & Rescue jobs, two-thirds of their calls request medical assistance. The high proportion of medical calls that modern firefighters receive requires an additional set of skills including the ability to display warmth, patience and empathy for victims. These are skills women traditionally bring to the job.

By recognizing the value women bring to police and fire, more women are stepping up to serve and protect. In the most recent police academy, the top graduate is a woman. In Fire & Rescue, where women rarely applied to serve as a firefighter, we now have six highly capable women serving in the field.

Women continue to make up the majority of dispatchers and staffers for Huntsville Police and Fire and Rescue. They are also a positive influence on job performance and their capable work enables officers and firefighters to do their jobs. We look forward to seeing more and more women join our public safety teams.

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