Report: Vancouver Fire Department shows gender bias against wome - KPTV - FOX 12

Report: Vancouver Fire Department shows gender bias against women

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VANCOUVER, WA (KPTV) -

A new report shows gender bias against women in the Vancouver Fire Department, though the chief says he is vowing to fix it.

Out of 182 firefighters in Vancouver right now, only five of are women. But when the Chief Joe Molina found out that those five have been harassed, bullied and given sub-par equipment, he took action to make changes.

Molina said his first reaction from hearing the situation from his female fighters was “disappointing.” He called them together earlier this year after one of them was using the women’s restroom at station 10 when her male boss walked in on her, saying the door wasn’t locked.

After, the chief said, the stories just kept coming.

“It was disappointing to see that there were some individuals that clearly aren’t mature and professional,” he said. “Once I heard from the women some of the behaviors that were going on, I said, ‘we need an outside view.’”

Molina said he asked the Vancouver city HR department to look into the matter, and the department decided to do an external investigation.

The city hired an independent workplace investigator from Seattle, and in her final report, she wrote about inadequate bathroom and shower facilities for women, ill-fitting uniforms, porn magazines around the stations and an overall frat-house like atmosphere.

The women also talked about being targeted during training and the way they threw a ladder being called a “Nancy throw.”

Molina says no one deserves that kind of treatment, especially with the hard work firefighters do.

“I definitely want everybody to feel comfortable coming to work, serving the community, serving the citizens,” he said.

Right away, Molina instituted anti-harassment training for the whole department and said action against certain employees could follow. However, he said he knows changing attitudes takes time.

“Behaviors - we can stop behaviors by saying, ‘This is unacceptable, this is first and foremost a workplace,’” Molina said. “But changing the culture of the organization is a longer proposition.”

The Vancouver Fire Department started almost 150 years ago, but they did not get their first female firefighters until the 1990s.

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