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All-female fire crew serves in Gresham

Battalion Chief of Gresham Fire Jason McGowan said he wants their department to lead the charge in hiring more women firefighters in a male-dominated industry.

GRESHAM, Ore. — Gresham Fire can't say it's the first all-female crew, but it's not common and this time it happened by chance. 

On Thursday morning, three women were assigned to work on an engine with Gresham Fire for a 24-hour shift.

Battalion Fire Chief of Gresham fire Jason McGowan said it's a rare occurrence in the department because only five women are firefighters compared to roughly 70-75 men who are firefighters. McGowan estimated his department is 90% predominantly male. 

He said one issue his fire department faces is the lack of female applicants who apply to be hired. McGowan said it's hard to hire more women if none of them are applying. 

McGowan said Gresham fire is making strides to employ more female firefighters. Two new women recruits finishing up school will start in February 2021.

He said firefighting has been a male-dominated industry for a long time and he wants to lead the charge to change that.

The women who made up Thursday's crew were Nikki White, Lt. Tiffanie Andrews-Rost and Emily Snodgrass. All three women are paramedics and hazmat technicians. Another commonality these women share is they were all college athletes.

Credit: (Courtesy: Gresham Fire)
Middle, Nikki White, Left, Lt. Tiffanie Andrews-Rost, Right, Emily Snodgrass made up an all-female crew assigned to station 72 in Gresham Thursday.

Lt. Andrews-Rost has been with the department for 20 years, White has been with the department for three and a half years and Snodgrass has been working with the department for five years.

Outside of the organization, McGowan said when little girls see an all-female crew working, he hopes they'll see that and think, "That job it's pretty cool. I can do that."

The women worked from 7 a.m. Thursday until their shift ended at 7 a.m. Friday for Gresham Fire Station 72, located on 500 NE Kane Drive.