WISCONSIN (NBC 26) — Firefighter Emily Owens is a St. Norbert College graduate whose not only debunking stereotypes in her career field, but is part of the groundbreaking efforts to help diversify the fire industry.
"I didn't always get a lot of support as the only woman on a crew. There was a time when I was the only woman on a crew. There was a time when I was the only woman working on a prescribed fire and people didn't really bother learning my name. They just called me girl. That was really hard for me,” Owens said.
Owens is part of the Montana Conservation Corps and thanks to a generous grant from the National Park Foundation, they were able to help launch a program to create an all women fire crew.
"I applied for the women's fire crew because I knew we would be more of a safe space. And I knew they would likely have similar reasons for wanting to apply for this crew,” Owens said.
WATCH the video below to learn more about Owens:
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), there were an estimated 1,115,000 career and volunteer firefighters in the United States in 2018.
Out of that only eight percent of the nation’s firefighters were female. Of the career firefighters, only four percent were female firefighters.
Recently, Owens and her team were sent out to California to battle the wildfires.
"In California it was so hot. It was 110 degrees while we were on the wildfire. And the elevation was just so low. And when I came back to Wyoming and Montana I was like I don't feel the best," Owens said.
While it’s evident that the fire industry is very much a male-dominated field, this program is aimed to help provide job skills to women interested in exploring a potential career.
But even during the hard times, she continues to push through even on the hard days.
"A lot of times you actually get to see the fruits of you labors. You can meet the people whose homes you saved, and that's something that is really important for me,"Owens said.
Owens just one of a a handful of women in her crew who are ready to answer calls.
To learn more about the program and the stories of other trailblazing women like her, WATCH the video below: