Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Fire Science and Safety: Websites

Helpful Fire Science Websites

Links for Women in Fire Fighting

Women in Fire Fighting

Who was the first woman firefighter?

From -

As far as we currently know, the first woman to be paid for fighting fires was Sandra Forcier, who was hired as a Public Safety Officer — a combination police officer and firefighter — by the City of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, on July 1, 1973. Forcier moved into a fire-only position four years later. Battalion Chief Sandra (Forcier) Waldron retired from Winston-Salem in 2004.

Judith Livers (now Judith Brewer) was hired as a firefighter by the Arlington County, Virginia, Fire Department in 1974, becoming the first woman ever hired into a strictly firefighting position. Helping her firefighter husband study for his fire science classes, Livers learned about the devastation fire can cause, and was motivated to become a firefighter herself. She retired from Arlington County in late 1999, at the rank of battalion chief.

Many other women were in the fire service before 1974. The earliest were volunteer firefighters in urban and small-town settings, who date back to the 1800’s at least. Molly Williams was the first known woman firefighter, an African-American woman held as a slave who worked on Oceanus Engine Company #11 in New York City in 1818. Women have also worked as fire lookouts since the early 1900’s and, beginning in the mid-1970’s, as seasonal firefighters in the wildland sector.

©2022 Houston Community College Libraries