Many people are surprised to learn that the first women to join the Los Angeles Fire Department did so prior to World War I.

On June 16, 1912, the LAFD's first all-female volunteer Fire Company, led by Captain Marie Stack responded to a grass fire near the intersection of Third and Flower Streets in what is now Downtown Los Angeles.

These valiant ladies had their first fire well under control prior to the arrival of the LAFD's next-due resource, the recently motorized contingent of LAFD Engine Company 3.

Then LAFD Chief Engineer Archibald Eley oversaw the formation of several other all-female firefighting crews in 1912, including the storied Manhattan Place Volunteer Fire Brigade led by Captain J.A. Caldwell.

Not to be limited to the lesser ranks or even Captain, the Wilmington Park Fire Ladies protecting the southern limits of our City in 1912, were led by Chief Louise Leonardo.

Of course, our City and its people were soon embroiled in the first World War, and as our burgeoning City grew in the decades following the war, the need for part-time men and women to protect parts of our metropolis from fire was eclipsed. Still the work of Marie Stack and her pioneering colleagues has inspired us for more than nine decades.

So what of gender diversity in today's LAFD?

The Los Angeles Fire Department began providing career opportunities for women as Paramedics in 1978 (in what was then a separate career track) and for women as Firefighters in 1983.

The two career-paths were combined in the 1990's and there are now nearly 100 women members of the LAFD holding uniformed positions ranging from Firefighter and Firefighter/Paramedic to Apparatus Operator, Engineer, Investigator, Inspector, Captain and Assistant Chief.

Still more women hold key positions in LAFD Bureaus that oversee our Administration, Operations, Administrative Services, Emergency Services, Fire Prevention & Public Safety, Training & Risk Management and Support Services.

...and what of the LAFD's future?

You can help us share word of our need to hire, retain and empower a truly capable and dynamic workforce. Detailed information about the demands and rewards of an LAFD career - and how any motivated man or woman can start the process, are available year-round by calling 213-485-8032 or visiting the LAFD Recruitment website at:

If you'd like to know more about women working in our vocation:

Submitted by Brian Humphrey
Los Angeles Fire Department
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