Minnesota Female Firefighters Work to Recruit More Women to the Field

There are only about 600 to 800 female firefighters across the state of Minnesota, and Dorine Rausch is one of them.

“Every time, when I was young and we would hear a siren, my grandmother would always say, ‘Pray for those people – they need help,'” Rausch said.

Today, Rausch puts those prayers into action by saving lives in her spare time as a firefighter in Holdingford, Minnesota.

“There are so many things that we can do, and there are a few things that we’re probably better at than the guys,” Natascha Hennen, who is the only female firefighter in Freeport, said.

“There [are] a lot of departments that are hurting for recruitments,” Rausch said.

Across the nation, women barely make up 4 percent of firefighters, and it took hard work to get where they are today.

“I turned in my application the first time and got laughed at,” Rausch said.

Eighteen years later, she’s delivered one baby, responded to countless medical and fire calls and is constantly changing opinions.

When asked if any of those firefighters who initially laughed at her apologized, she said, “Once I proved them wrong. I love proving people wrong.”

“It’s sad, but you always have to be better than the guys,” Hennen said. “During training, you better put that gear on faster than the guys.”

But that’s what makes these women the type of people you want to depend on living in your community. It’s their determination, their drive and their heart.

“Every time I jump in a vehicle, I still first say a prayer for whoever needs help and get there as soon as we can and do what we can,” Rausch said.

No one knows why it’s taking so long to recruit more women to the job, but there’s an upcoming event that can help.

You can see what it would be like to be a firefighter for a day at an event at the Freeport Fire Station later this month. It takes place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 17, with check-in beginning at 8:30 a.m. at Freeport City Hall, located at 125 East Main St. The event is free, and refreshments, snacks and lunch will be provided.

Credits

Katherine Johnson

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