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Celebrating Women’s History Month

Female Firefighter Training 1980 – Photo courtesy of the Seattle Fire Department

March is Women’s History Month, a national recognition of the vital roles women have played throughout history. Women’s History Month is a time to reflect on the courageousness of women in past generations and to celebrate how their efforts and bravery afforded women the opportunities and freedoms they have today.  

Amanda Righi, Seattle Firefighter/ParamedicPhoto courtesy of the Seattle Fire Department

“Women’s History Month is an opportunity to take the time to recognize the contributions of all the women that have come before me – both inside the fire department and in the larger community. I wouldn’t be here without the women that have fought for equity – in voting rights, civil rights, workplace and labor rights, equal pay, anti-harassment, etc. Though I try to remember and recognize these women throughout the year, Women’s History Month gives us an opportunity to focus on their accomplishments and appreciate the work they have done (and continue to do!) to get us to where we are. I hope we can build upon and continue their work to create a more equitable community.” Firefighter/Paramedic Amanda Righi

Opal Oakes, Administrative Specialist III Mobile Integrated Health Program Photo courtesy of the Seattle Fire Department

“To me, Women’s history month is the recognition and celebration of the contributions that individuals that identify as women have made to history. I see this month as an opportunity to learn the vital roles which women have played in shaping history.
The first uniformed woman did not start in Operations until 1978. It is important to recognize the past and highlight the accomplishments and ways women have contributed to where we are now. It is especially important to bring conversation and dialogue to aspects of history that may not otherwise be recognized so that they can be uplifted and used as a guidepost for which direction we want to grow. As we diversify our understanding of the contributions that have led to where we are, we have a better understanding of how that may have impacted our community, thus better serving individuals in our community, exactly as they are in the moment that they need us.” Opal Oakes, Administrative Specialist III SFD Mobile Integrated Health program.

Bonnie Beers became the first full-time female firefighter with SFD in 1977, and despite the difficulty she endured, she laid a path for many women in Seattle’s fire service. By the late 1980s, the Seattle Fire Department was considered a national model for the recruitment, hiring and retention of women as firefighters, providing assistance to other fire service organizations across the nation. Read more here.

Bonnie Beers, 1978 Image 73029, Seattle Municipal Archives

History is full of incredible women whose contributions have shaped the world. We celebrate the many ways women lead, serve, uplift and contribute to the Seattle Fire Department and the Seattle community.