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Female firefighting first

For years, women in Finland did not apply for admission to firefighting school. Now, for the first time in history, three women have been invited to the entrance exam for firefighter training that begins in January.

Pelastusopiston rehtori Mervi Parvianen
Pelastusopiston rehtori Mervi Parvianen. Image: Pelastusopisto

In the spring, Emergency Services College principal Mervi Parviainen was angry because not a single woman had applied for firefighter training in years.

Now Parviainen, who heads the emergency services school in Kuopio, eastern Finland, is excited. In fact, there are five potential female candidates for firefighter training, however two of them are not aiming to be firefighters. Of the five, three have completed their lifesaving studies, one is studying to be the manager of a firefighting department, and a fifth has already changed careers.

When the entrance exams for firefighting training begin next week at the College in Kuopio, Finland, 165 candidates will battle it out for 64 spots.

”Five (female) candidates is a high number, a historic moment in the history of the institution. You have to be strong and really want this, people don’t apply here on a whim," says Parviainen. "Even prior to the entrance exam, applicants have already had to pass rigorous physical exams and been subjected to psychological screening.”

Next week the historical entrance test for three women will take place and the best candidates from all of the applicants will be chosen. 

”I sincerely hope that at least one of the women gets in. And not one does, then I hope that they re-apply,” says Parviainen.

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