Community & Business

5 March, 2024

inspiring Inclusion

For nearly a decade, Mareeba firefighter Peta-Lee Staple has tirelessly devoted herself to safeguarding her community, with her commitment and resilience being recognised on a state-wide scale.

inspiring Inclusion - feature photo

Peta shares her story of compassion, strength and determination with ELLIE FINK, and what it takes to be a woman on the frontline of an emergency… 

PUTTING her life on the line to help others, Peta-Lee Staples is the epitome of the “perfect firefighter”, showing great physical and mental strength every day on the job. 

The mother-of-two has been working as an auxiliary firefighter since 2015, attending to thousands of callouts, including last year’s wildfires on the Southern Tablelands and the Black Summer Fires in New South Wales of 2019-20.

Despite not fitting the fireman stereotype, Peta has proven herself to be just as tough as the men in her squad. 

Despite being one of seven women at the Mareeba Station, she is aware that the community perceives firefighters to be men.

“I find the community do have that stereotype and that bias that being an auxiliary is a masculine career – and it is to some degree,” Peta said. 

“I observed this stereotype not long ago with our lieutenant, who is female, who was in charge of a job. She jumped out of the truck, and then the male auxiliary jumped out behind her, and the people on the scene went straight to the man.

“He was like, ‘No, no, she is the one in charge here’. I think, to some degree, we do have to prove ourselves on the job.

“I do think though, if my kids were in a car wreck, I wouldn’t be wondering what gender you were if you were saving them. I would want to know that you’ve got the skills and the safety training behind them to get them out as quickly as possible.”

Breaking down the gender stereotype within the industry comes down to recruitment, according to Peta, who hopes more strong women will put their hand up to join their local auxiliary. 


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