Firefighters will say it's physical, mental and a tough job. Female firefighters will say it's dominated by men, but they're trying to change that.
With more than 20 years under her belt and the quilt on her small office bed to prove it, Capt. Karen Dupont is not just one of the guys -- she's actually one of the women.
In fact, Dupont is one of only 104 women in the nearly 4,000 strong Houston Fire Department. She was the fourth female ever hired with HFD and now the 48-year-old veteran and mother-of-three is on a mission to recruit others like her.
"It teaches young women, yes you can, you absolutely can do this," she said.
At a fire station across town, five-year veteran Tara Grace says the same thing.
"I was always inquisitive about being a firefighter when I was younger, but you never heard of very many female firefighters that were in the department," Grace said.
What draws them to the tough job is a chance to save a life and the fact that no day or even moment is the same.
Capt. Dupont says with no room in the budget for full-time recruitment, she and other female firefighters are heading to high school classrooms and hosting Camp Houston Fire for teenage girls. Dupont and Grace agree. It's important to make sure more women fill these boots.
"Men are compassionate and sensitive but the bottom line is we're not the same. We're different, and I think we bring a unique prospect to the environment," Dupont said. "This is a job requiring a lot of hard work and thoughtfulness, and if you have the desire to be that hardworking person, we want to show you that you can do it."
Camp Houston Fire begins in March but the application deadline is in February 8. It's free for teenagers because HFD relies on sponsors to pay for the program.
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