March 19, 2024 6 min read

Triple F logo. Triple F was founded to empower female firefighters.

How Triple F Empowers Fierce Female Firefighters


EMSFirePublic Safety


Diversity & InclusionEMSFire
Triple F logo. Triple F was founded to empower female firefighters.

As every member of the fire service knows, firefighting in the U.S. has a long and storied history, going back hundreds of years. However, some may be surprised to learn that women have been a part of the fire service for almost as long as it’s existed in the United States.

The first known female firefighter was named Molly Williams, a former slave. In 1815, she joined the Oceanus Engine Company in New York City. As a volunteer, she played an instrumental role during the blizzard of 1818.

Since Molly, the presence of women in the fire service has steadily grown over time. Today, the National Fire Protection Association estimates that 9 out of every 100 firefighters in the U.S. are women. Of career firefighters, 5% are female and of volunteer firefighters, 11% are female.

However, despite their historic and continued service as firefighters, some still find the idea of female firefighters surprising.

Lt. Tina Guiler, CEO of Triple F and Founder of Triple F Foundation, said that she, and every female firefighter she’s spoke to, has on one occasion or another, been asked, “are you really a firefighter?”

“It’s a question we get asked all the time, from children and adults. Every woman I’ve talked to has always had that happen to them,” she said.

Triple F: Fierce Female Firefighters

Triple F was started in 2013 as a private group page on Facebook for women in the fire service by a co-worker of Guiler’s, Firefighter Gea Haff. Haff’s vision for the group was just a place for female firefighters to find and offer support to one another.

In her words, she wanted to create, “a place where women could come together and share our hard-earned experience and strength with each other, free of judgement or a skeptical eye.”

In 2015, Haff passed the group page over to Lt. Guiler and she grew it quickly. Today, Triple F has over 7,200+ members from 58 countries. Beyond offering each other support and empowerment, Triple F also gives its members a place to ask questions specific to the experience women have as firefighters.

Lieutenant Tina Guiler

“It’s a really good group to go to and talk about women’s needs in the fire service. You know, like what kind of bra should a rookie wear into a fire?” Lt. Guiler said.

In addition to answering each other’s questions, members also share training tips with each other. As shared by Lt. Guiler, the techniques used by male firefighters may not always work the exact same way for women.

“We’ll put up training videos of women actually doing it…women are built differently so we train a little bit differently,” she said. “We do trainings, we do gatherings, and we get to meet people from all over the place.”

In addition to providing a safe place for women in the fire service to communicate and empower each other, Lt. Guiler also started the Triple F Company, where she uses the unique Triple F logos for apparel and merchandise. Later, she also founded Triple F Foundation, a 501c3 charity. The foundation supports first responders suffering from cancer, injury, and physical and mental illness, as well as providing opportunities for training and education.

“In 2018, I got breast cancer. I realized how hard it was financially, even with support. So, I started the foundation to help other first responders battling cancer and on-the-job injuries,” she said.

Since 2020, the foundation has financially supported over 20 individual first responders dealing with cancer or injuries. Additionally, the foundation has sponsored two women to seek out training to advance their careers. Donations to the foundation go directly toward supporting these goals.

Recruiting Women Into The Fire Service

One of Lt. Guiler’s specific goals as CEO of Triple F is to educate the public about the presence of women in the fire service and the important role they play as firefighters. To further this goal, Lt. Guiler created three plush firefighting dolls: Ember, Molly, and Ash.

Standing at 15 ½ inches tall, each doll is soft, cuddly, and most importantly, accurate. They wear realistic turnout gear, come with a Triple F axe, and even have a blue t-shirt and suspenders under the removable bunker coat. A portion of the proceeds from each doll also go back to the foundation, further supporting female firefighters and first responders.

“I made the dolls to educate the public and show little girls they can be firefighters,” she said. “They’re also really good for firefighter’s kids because as firefighters, we’re gone for days at a time. The dolls can be something left at home for them to hug and hold on to when they miss mommy or daddy.”

Triple F Firefighter Dolls

Before becoming a firefighter herself, Lt. Guiler was friends with several other women who were firefighters. Having these women as role models was a major contributor to her decision to pursue a career in firefighting.

“I’m 18, they’re almost 30 and they’re showing me that I can do the job. It was huge for me,” she said.

Programs that provide mentorship for girls and young women interested in firefighting are an important way fire departments can recruit more women into the fire service.

“Some of them do become firefighters. Not all of them, but a lot of them do and they’re getting trained by actual female firefighters. We’re showing them they can do the job, which is so important because there’s so many people out there that don’t know women can be firefighters or don’t think we can,” Lt. Guiler said.

In addition to educating and inspiring the next generation of female firefighters, Lt. Guiler emphasized that fire department leadership should also be supporting the women already in the fire service.

“It’s very much a man’s world in firefighting, and women can be intimidated to join a department that only has men,” she said.

Oftentimes, fire departments may lack specific restrooms or changing areas for women or lack policies regarding things like pregnancy. Addressing these concerns is an important step to creating an inclusive environment for women. An additional area of focus, that requires no planning or budget, is vocabulary.

“I think words matter. A lot of firefighters use ‘firemen.’ Now, fireman is a term that’s been around for hundreds of years, but when you say firemen in a public setting, you’re excluding women. Kids hear that and think, ‘well, that’s just a man’s job then.’” Lt. Guiler said. “Some people might not agree, and that’s fine. But I know it would have made a difference to me when I was a child.”


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