SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — An all-women unit, even for a day, is historic for Savannah. It’s also something Captain Chela Gutierrez has been encouraging for the last three years.
“You know, it would be great to get the girls together and get out there for people to see, like, women and people of color working together, and that we actually have women and people of color on the fire department,” said Capt. Gutierrez.
The four firefighters selected for the assignment, Capt. Chela Gutierrez, Fire Engineer Gabrielle Hauck, Advanced Firefighter Renata Peters and Firefighter Alexandria Earley, are of varying backgrounds and years of experience.
They understand what this moment means, for Savannah Fire and everyone who sees them.
“Just to show them that we can do this, because a lot of people look at females and think that firefighting’s a male’s job. So, when females can do it, and we can show you that we can do it, and we don’t need the men that’s a good, that’s a good start,” said Renata Peters.
Despite strides made toward inclusion and equity, Peters says some people still need to be reminded that women firefighters are just as trained and ready as the men, and in many cases, more so.
“You know, we have to be above and beyond to even be here. We have to be better than the guys just to even be here, so I’m very confident in the females,” reiterated Peters.
Savannah Fire employs only 14 certified women firefighters, with only 12 being assigned to firefighting units. The other two work as Deputy Fire Marshalls, but what they all have in common is a drive to serve.
“We’re firefighters, period. It doesn’t matter what you are or what you look like; we’re firefighters, and we’re here for the community of Savannah,” said Captain Gutierrez.
Though these four firefighters will only come together like this for a day to honor Women’s History Month, they hope their example will spur lasting change.