Laura Monsen has become the Castlegar Fire Department’s first female officer.
Monsen has been with the department for about five years and when a posting came up for a lieutenant position, she decided to go for it.
The 23-year-old enjoys working as a firefighter.
“It’s one of those jobs that has a little bit of everything,” she said. “I always admired what they did and it is a really gratifying job.”
Monsen is proud to become the first female officer in the department.
“It feels pretty rewarding,” she said. “I’ve worked really hard for this. Initially, I wasn’t going to apply, but I decided to challenge myself.”
She hopes to be an inspiration to the four other female members of the department.
“I’m hoping they will see that I did it and that they can do it too,” added Monsen.
“We are very happy and excited to have Laura take on the role of lieutenant and being the first female officer for the Castlegar Fire Department,” said CFD fire chief Sam Lattanzio. “I look forward to working with Laura in her new role which starts Jan. 1, 2018. It’s a good time to be in the Castlegar Fire Department.”
Monsen is a Level 2 firefighter and is in the midst of taking fire officer training from the College of the Rockies to achieve NFPA 1021 status.
Lattanzio explained that lieutenants in the CFD are considered team leaders: “They need a lot of those certain types of qualifications and certifications to even be considered for a position.”
Monsen encourages other women who are interested in becoming firefighters to pursue the job.
“If you are capable of doing it — just get out there and do it,” she said. “It’s a lot of fun and you learn a lot. It’s a good team to work with.”
She also reports that she has not experienced harassment or discouragement from her male counterparts.
“I’ve never had to worry about them — they are awesome guys to work with,” Monsen said.
“Being a woman, there is that standard where you kind of have to prove yourself — but I have never really had to feel that with these guys because they have always been a team and a family for me.”
Monsen’s eventual goal is to become a safety officer.
“I still have a lot to learn, I’m still new to this, but it’s really exciting. We’ll see what the future brings.”