Taja Smith, left, and Nicole Matuschka started their training in Rotorua in July. Photo/Stephen Parker
The current round of recruitment closes on Monday morning, and so far 118 women have completed applications to spend three months at the Fire and Emergency National Training Centre in Rotorua. That equates to 17 per cent of the 687 total applications.
Recruitment manager Rochelle Martin said it was the highest number they had ever had but "we'd like to see even more women putting their names forward"."Presently only 4 per cent of firefighters are female. Women bring a different and valuable set of skills and attributes to the job and we're keen to increase their number."
Fifteen applicants in the current recruitment round are from the Rotorua area, and two are women. The highly competitive rounds are normally held twice a year by Fire and Emergency New Zealand. Applicants from the current round will be interviewed and put through physical and cognitive tests. Then two groups of 24 recruits will be chosen, one for the training course starting in January and one for the course starting in April.
Nicole Matuschka, from Whanganui, is one of two women in the current group of 24 trainees in Rotorua.
Nicole Matuschka, left, and Taja Smith at the Fire and Emergency National Training Centre. Photo/Stephen Parker
The 28-year-old said she was drawn by the hands-on work in firefighting. "I had worked with Fire and Emergency through the police, so I had a good idea of what they did." She said it was encouraging to see more females were considering firefighting as a career path but being part of a minority did not bother her at work. "From the policing background, I am used to there being more males than females." Matuschka said firefighting did not cross her mind at high school but the recruitment advertising and targeting had changed. "I am just looking forward to getting out on the trucks and getting a foot in the door."
Senior trainer Mike Thomson said Matuschka and fellow female trainee Taja Smith had "great attitudes" and "fitted in perfectly" with their male counterparts. "It is great to see the growing diversification. They all have to pass the same tests. It is just a matter of getting the right people." He said the career was "not for everyone, men miss out too". "Lives are on the line in this job, so it is about having the right mentality as well as the physical strength and skills."