the essential The Lot firefighters were among the first to integrate a woman on field missions, from 1980. They remain exemplary with 28% of women in their ranks (compared to 20% on average in France) and a new captain assigned to Gourdon at the start of year.
In Gourdon, the celebration of International Women’s Rights Day will be exceptional. On Wednesday March 8, the firefighters of the Lot will inaugurate the rescue center of the sub-prefecture just rehabilitated and it is a woman who will give her name to the barracks. This is Christiane Jobé, the first female firefighter in the department, it was in 1980.
43 years later, this approach is a delight to Marion Rapior, who has just taken command of the management of the territorial fire and rescue unit in Gourdon. The young 33-year-old captain arrived in the Lot on January 2.
“I am responsible for this unit to which the nine emergency centers of the arrondissement of Gourdon are attached. Namely Vayrac, les Quatre Routes, Martel, Souillac, Gramat, Gourdon, Cazals, Salviac, Labastide-Murat. My role is to be the link with the services of the SDIS of the Lot and our 9 centers. But, also to remain available to our heads of center to facilitate their work and support them ” introduces the captain.
“it’s a great professional challenge that awaits me with a new SDIS and other challenges”
Coming from the Haut-Rhin, where she was a volunteer firefighter before becoming a professional, Marion Rapior is turning the page of 13 years of commitment with the relief services of eastern France, to integrate those of Occitanie. “Whether in the context of my personal or professional projects, I wanted to discover a new territory. I knew Le Lot as a tourist, there is a great professional challenge awaiting me with a new SDIS and other issues”, recognizes the young woman.
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Already, she discovers a very particular typology on the organization of the Lot relief. “The particularity of this unit is to have 250 volunteer firefighters, for only two professional firefighters. My deputy in charge of supervision, Lieutenant Pascal Malès, and myself. Here, the most important issue is to consolidate the human resource”, she admits.
A concept that in a few weeks she quickly integrated. “With 72% of the interventions between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., it is complicated to mobilize volunteers who have a job elsewhere. We are therefore seeking to create partnerships with the actors and employers of the territory, in order to generate availability at these volunteer firefighters”.
The needs are quite cyclical in the life of a center and currently it is towards the sectors of the Causse de Gramat and Labastide-Murat that its attention is focused. “We have to manage to free up time during the week. Thanks to agreements, we can ensure that we do not penalize the company or the public authority which accepts the secondment of its employee to respond to rescue missions”, says captain Marion Rapior.
She joined the young firefighters at 14
The other lever for consolidating firefighter volunteering also involves young people, a path she herself experienced when she became a JSP. “I discovered the world of firefighters by chance, at the age of 14, by following a friend who wanted to join the young firefighters. It was a real revelation”, she confides to us.
Convinced by this system, it wishes to promote optimal functioning of young firefighters in conjunction with the Departmental Union of Firefighters (the associative network) and in collaboration with the Lot SDIS. Moreover, in addition to the JSP training center in Gramat, a new section in Gourdon should open from the start of the next school year. “It will work with the firefighters of Gourdon, Cazals and Salviac who are ready to supervise young people from their 14th year”.
To encourage new vocations, the captain also wants to get in touch with the people because, as she explains, there are a lot of received ideas. “People often put up barriers or are afraid to get involved in this unknown environment, explaining how we work can open up perspectives. Many still think that we are all professionals and tell themselves that it’s not for them. “.
28% of the workforce in Lot are female firefighters
History to bring down other clichés, women have their place there. Moreover, of the 1,005 Lot firefighters, 277 personnel are female, or 28% of the workforce. In Lalbenque, these ladies even represent 37% of the workforce. And all of them are under the command of Lieutenant Christel Martinez, room manager at the Cahors Alert Processing Center in her professional time; and volunteer firefighters in Lalbenque on his personal time!
“In the Lot, it’s quite special, the rate of feminization is high; among the highest in France, notes the head of the territorial unit of Gourdon. Which means that this subject is no longer one for anyone here, every day.”
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An opinion shared by Captain Céline Duval, head of the rescue center of the sub-prefecture of Figeac for many years. “The feminization of firefighters is not a subject. When I arrived in Figeac 10 years ago, it was already not. Man or woman who presents himself to become a firefighter, we do not ask ourselves the question, it’s the same with career development, training, etc.”
In Gourdon, Sergeant Christiane Jobé was a pioneer
And it would not be Sergeant Christiane Jobé, who died in 2020, who would contradict them since a few years ago, during an interview, she confided: “Even if it seemed original to many at the time, my integration s went very well with my new firefighter colleagues”, recognizing however: “My head of center considered that it was not my place (Editor’s note: to go on fire missions) and wanted me to confine myself to interventions assistance to people. I held firm and I continued to shift for fire missions as soon as the opportunity arose. Over time, he realized that I was capable and that I carried out the missions as the rest of the squad. I think I’ve worn it out.”