WMFE is Central Florida's primary provider of NPR programming on 90.7 FM and Classical Music on 90.7 HD2. Part of the community since 1965, WMFE focuses on providing quality national and local news and programming. We inspire and empower all Central Floridians to discover, grow and engage within and beyond their world.
CLOSEOpt Out: I already like WMFE!

Like us on Facebook!

Support for 90.7 WMFE is provided by

Women Firefighters Still Wear Gear Meant for Men, An Orange County Fire Rescue Study Could Change That


Play Audio

Orange County Fire Rescue’s Shannon Zielonka says she’s worn male gear her entire career as a firefighter EMT from the boots to the gloves to the pants. 

As Zielonka stands on a box while a research assistant uses scanning software to make a 3-D model of her body, she says she’s ready for that to change. 

A firefighter is scanned to generate a 3-D model of her body. Photo: Orange County Fire Rescue

“It’s hard with my dexterity. And then when you’re crawling through mazes or if you’re going through windows or anything where you need to maneuver your legs, it’s a lot more difficult.”

That’s why Florida State University’s Meredith McQuerry-one of the researchers leading the study-says they’ll make this data along with height and weight measurements available to companies who could design gear for women.  

“And everyone work to improve in the next generation of firefighters hopefully to have better tailored, better fitting gear.”

She says they’re also scanning some male firefighters from minority groups to improve the fit of their gear as well. 

University of Oregon’s Susan Sokolowski-the other research lead-says this gear will also need to make it easier and more comfortable for the firefighters who wear it to do their jobs.

“In the design side, we’ll look at how that affects like placement of pockets for example. And for women because they’re shorter in stature, often the pockets are in the wrong place. So when you’re crawling, you might be crawling on a pocket with something in it.”

The latest statistics from the National Fire Protection Association show that the industry is still predominantly made up of white men between the ages of 30 and 49. 

If you’d like to listen to the story, please click on the clip above.


Sign Up For 90.7 WMFE's Newsletter

Catch up on the latest Central Florida news and get updates on programs, events and more.

SUBSCRIBE

WMFE Journalistic Ethics Code | Public Media Code of Integrity

Danielle Prieur

About Danielle Prieur

Reporter

Danielle Prieur grew up listening to her grandfather’s stories of swimming across the Detroit River from Canada and many other adventures. She’s been into storytelling ever since. She studied writing at the University of Michigan. She trained in public radio at WDET’s Detroit newsroom, and is really excited ... Read Full Bio »

TOP