MEGAN Stiffler is rapidly hosing down the notion that firefighting is just for men.
They may number only 48 – just a fraction of the 2000-strong force - but Queensland's female firefighters have forged a reputation for courage and dedication.
Ms Stiffler, 44, has been a firefighter for five years.
Before that she had already tasted success in business – she was state manager for an insurance company.
But the former Sherwood resident put that behind her to pursue a career that offered excitement and adventure, and she's never regretted it.
“It's exhilarating work,” Ms Stiffler said.
“When I started, the male staff were very polite around me, always apologised when they swore, and offered to carry things for me.
“But once they got to know me, they realised they didn't have to do that. I'm a firefighter first and a female second.
“When I visit schools to promote fire safety, the children sometimes wonder how to address me because they're only familiar with the term ‘fireman',” she said.
But Ms Stiffler believes firefighting will gradually become a real career option for women.
“It can be quite physically demanding,” she said.
“You can find yourself running up the stairs of a high-rise building carrying 32kg of equipment.”
Operating out of the Kemp Place Fire Station in Brisbane's Fortitude Valley, Ms Stiffler said the past year had been particularly busy as a result of the natural disasters.
“I travelled from disaster to disaster,” she said.
“It was exhausting but at the same time I was filled with pride being able to help people during such a horrible time.”