The road less travelled


by Jenny Arcand

My name is Jenny Arcand and I have been a volunteer firefighter in North Grenville for three years.

When I was first asked to write an article about my experience as a woman in the fire service I wasn’t sure what I was going to write. I was trying to think of how my experience has been any different from the guys. Well, to be honest I don’t think it has been any different. My experience has been nothing but positive. It’s the best team I’ve ever been a part of. I’ve always played team sports my whole life and I think that has helped me to succeed in the fire service. I’m a team player and as a firefighter you have to be.

It doesn’t matter who you are, this job is going to have its challenges. It’s just the nature of it. You need to have the work ethic to work through those challenges and improve. We all have our strengths and weaknesses and that’s why we work as a team.

Your gender doesn’t matter it’s all about what you bring to the table. Can you do the job?

For me I prefer hands on physical work rather than working at a desk or in an office. I’ve always been that way. My full time job is a reinforcing ironworker and before that I was a forest fire fighter. All of my jobs have been in male dominant fields and never have I had any challenges due to being a girl. 

I wanted to become a volunteer firefighter because I love the challenge, the adrenaline rush and pushing myself to the next level. I love learning new skills and in firefighting you never stop learning. There is always more to know, more to improve on and you can always be better. I also like that firefighting gives me the opportunity to make a difference in my community. Being able to help people in need is rewarding. The camaraderie of the fire service is something I’m grateful be a part of. As a team we have each other’s backs, on and off the job and that is something that I’m thankful for.

If I were to give advice to young women wanting to become a firefighter, it would be to learn to take constructive criticism. Don’t let it discourage you. Let it motivate you, learn from it and improve yourself. You don’t need to be the strongest person with the most skills. You can learn those things. The most important thing is your attitude, it needs to be a good one along with your work ethic. Those things go a long way. Put in the work. Don’t give up and you’ll get there eventually. 


  1. Well written article by this volunteer. There is great camaraderie in high functioning teams doing important work.


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