Firefighters swap places with footballers for International Women’s Day

In celebration of International Women’s Day, some of our female firefighters swapped fire kit for football kit and trained with footballers from Watford Ladies Football Club. Jules Hawkins, on-call Hertford, Kristi Burling, on-call Cheshunt, and Helen Read, on-call Kings Langley, joined in with a warm-up, various drills and a penalty shootout.

In exchange, footballers Alysha Stokjo-Down and Georgie Edwards joined Helen, Kristi, and Carley-Jo Rackley, on-call Markyate, at the Joint Emergency Services Academy (JESIP) ran hose reels, did a ladder climb, and cut up a car in a mock casualty situation.

Georgie Edwards, 21, is a defender for Watford Ladies. ‘It was great to have a go at being a firefighter. The equipment and even the uniform were heavier than I expected – to be able to do the job as quickly as they do is impressive!

It’s evident the roles have some differences, but we have a lot of similarities too. Ultimately, firefighters and footballers are passionate, strong-minded and talented performers. Both roles take time, effort and commitment.’

Helen Read, based at King’s Langley fire station, said: ‘We got a great insight into the world of football when we visited Watford Ladies at their training session. All the ladies were very welcoming as we joined them in a variety of warm-up drills, as well as a penalty shootout at the end of the night.

Footballers and firefighters have lots in common; of course we need to be fit, but importantly we have the ability to carry on after a hard day.’

Kristi Burling is an on-call firefighter in Cheshunt. She’s also a PE teacher and gymnastics coach. ‘I had great fun training with a football club who play at a high standard – I learnt lots of different skills when taking part in the drills, as well as fitness techniques.

The commitment these footballers must have to play at the standard they do was very clear.’

21-year-old Alysha Stokjo-Down, is a midfielder for the team. ‘I was surprised by the range of things firefighters have to know how to do – it’s not just about putting out fires. You don’t appreciate how demanding both physically and mentally it is until you have to do it.

We’re both in unique positions in male-dominated fields. We get to show girls and women that being a woman shouldn’t limit your opportunities; we are no less physically capable of doing these jobs than men. Being able to empower women to believe and realise that they are not limited by their physicality is something the fire service and football have in common.’