Women Firefighters' Experiences in the Western Australian Volunteer Bush Fire Service

Document Type

Journal Article


Attorney Generals Department


Faculty of Computing, Health and Science


School of Psychology and Social Science




This article was originally published as: Branch-Smith, C. A., & Pooley, J. (2010). Women firefighters' experiences in the Western Australian volunteer bush fire service. Australian Journal of Emergency Management, 25(3), 12-18. Original article available here


Recent events, such as Black Saturday, have shown how invaluable Australia’s volunteer firefighters are to communities. Volunteer numbers appear to be declining nation-wide and a majority of volunteer fire services report under-representation of women in operational roles. To ascertain an understanding of experiences and issues faced by women in volunteer fire services, the aim of the current study was to explore female volunteer firefighters’ experience, and how their experiences impact on their perceptions of themselves as firefighters. A qualitative research methodology was employed, which provided insight into the way in which women perceive themselves as firefighters, and the influences of past experiences which impacted on these perceptions. This study contributes towards the understanding of how to effectively engage and empower women, and also to the development of programs and strategies conducive to the enhancement of women in Australian volunteer-based fire agencies.