x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Civil defence chiefs look at hiring women to fight fires

Female role in the team is 'pivotal', says head of fire safety

Firefighters tackle a blaze in Dubai last May. Female firefighters may be an idea whose time has come.
Firefighters tackle a blaze in Dubai last May. Female firefighters may be an idea whose time has come.

ABU DHABI // Fire chiefs say they want to bring more women into the force, and are exploring the possibility of recruiting women to work as firefighters.

There are 120 women in Civil Defence departments across the country, most in training and inspections and some in engineering.

"We will hire more women depending on how many we need," said Brig Gen Abdulla al Sauwaidi, director general for fire and safety protection at the Ministry of Interior.

"It is important to have women in the team," he said. Among other roles and possibilities, he said, women "are needed for inspections and awareness in areas for women only, such as ladies' salons".

Women can also play a role in fire safety and prevention, which is why the department dedicated its celebration this month of International Civil Defence Day to women, with the slogan "Civil Defence and the woman".

"Whether she is a housewife who takes care of her family and makes sure they are safe or a working woman who contributes to the country's economy, there is no doubt that whatever she does reflects on the safety of the society and she will play a pivotal role in civil defence," Brig Gen al Sauwaidi said.

He gave the example of Jameela al Zaabi, who was named by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, as "Umm al esa'af" (the mother of ambulance) when he visited her in her home.

Sheikh Mohammed was thanking her for her selfless contribution in working for 17 consecutive hours to help to rescue the victims of a fire in Al Quoz industrial area three years ago. Mrs al Zaabi was one of seven women honoured on March 1, International Civil Defence Day, for their personal contributions to the welfare of Emirati society.

Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, wife of the late Sheikh Zayed and head of the General Women's Union, was also among those honoured.

The celebration included an exhibition of the most advanced techniques and technologies used by Civil Defence.

hdajani@thenational.ae