HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Out of 1,200 employees at the Honolulu Fire Department, only 11 are women. The department is holding a free workshop to encourage more women to apply.
Sirens go off at the Honolulu Fire Department's training center and a prop car bursts into flames. The alarm is just an exercise, but the scorching heat and crew's plan of attack are very real.
"I think every day you just kind of expect that you're going to get slammed," said firefighter Kehau Lau. "There's going to be something that requires you to be mentally prepared, physically prepared."
Beneath the helmets and protective gear are three of the department's female firefighters; women who wanted to get out into the community and help people.
"I was always working with others, so it's kind of a good fit," Lau said. "I like to be active, I like to get out, I'm definitely not an office type person."
Like everyone else, they went through a lengthy testing process that included a written exam, physical ability test and interview.
"I would say anywhere between four months at the shortest duration all the way up to two years or more to get into a recruit class," said firefighter Kiana Kam.
Then came several months of training. "A lot of book work, a lot of studying at night, a lot of polishing of boots," said firefighter Jaimie Kinard.
"It takes a certain type of person, not just being physical, but being able to work well with others, the public, and being willing to serve the public," Lau said.
They say the job is tough and you can't be afraid to get dirty. Any given day can be physically and mentally draining.
"You're walking into someone else's bad day and you're there to make it right," Kam said. "Knowing that, nothing else comes into play until after the alarm is over."
"A number of times we'll be at brushfires and getting our lunch, bento packs and the ashes coming over your rice and it looks like furikake but because you're so hungry, you'll eat anything at that point," Lau said.
But whether the job is a house fire or ocean rescue or even fire prevention, they get the chance to make a difference.
"You don't think about it when you're in the companies that you're different from anybody else," Kam said. "It's a crew, the crew are firefighters. Male, female, it doesn't matter."
"We're helping people day in and day out and that is the most rewarding part about the job," Kinard said. "I think at the end of the day it's when we leave an alarm and we know we've helped someone to the best of our ability."
"Can You Take the Heat?" is a workshop for women interested in a career in firefighting. It takes place Saturday, January 21st at the Charles H. Thurston Training Center on Valkenburgh St.
The workshop is free, but the deadline to sign up is Friday, January 13. Click here to register.
Choose from three session times: 8 a.m., 10:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. Sessions should be about 1.5 hours long. Only the first 95 registrations will be accepted for each session.