Fairfax, Va. – The International Association of Women in Fire and Emergency Services (iWomen) today released a frank and powerful public-service announcement calling for the end of sexual assault, sexual harassment and related criminal acts in the fire and emergency service. The video was created by iWomen with assistance from the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) and Comcast Cable in Baltimore.
“Our message is clear: there is no place for sexual assault or sexual harassment in the fire service,” said iWomen President Laura Baker, deputy chief, Tucson (Ariz.) Fire Department. “We are urging everyone in the fire service to take a stand against this behavior. It should not be tolerated against our own or any others.”
The three-minute video features 2013-14 IAFC President Bill Metcalf, fire chief, North County (Calif.) Fire Protection District, and U.S. Fire Administrator Ernest Mitchell, an IAFC past president. The video was released in August in Dallas during the opening general session of Fire-Rescue International, the IAFC's annual conference.
“The integrity of the fire service as a whole can be destroyed by acts of sexual harassment and sexual assault, including rape committed by a few members across the nation, if those actions are not confronted and handled aggressively,” Mitchell said in the video.
“We must take a stand,” Metcalf said in the video, “that this type of behavior will not be tolerated against our members or anyone else. To be subjected to threatening words, harassing behaviors and sexual assault is unacceptable.”
Mitchell and Metcalf urged all fire service leaders to take concrete steps to eradicate sexual assault, sexual harassment and related conduct from their departments and enforce policies that protect members.
Baker said she hopes the message serves as inspiration for fire departments to examine their own policies, foster culture change where necessary and “rid our industry of these unacceptable criminal acts.”
A copy of the full PSA can be found on the iWomen website.
About the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC)
The IAFC represents the leadership of firefighters and emergency responders worldwide. IAFC members are the world's leading experts in firefighting, emergency medical services, terrorism response, hazardous materials spills, natural disasters, search and rescue, and public safety legislation. Since 1873, the IAFC has provided a forum for its members to exchange ideas, develop professionally and uncover the latest products and services available to first responders. Learn more