News & Opinion | June 5, 2018 5:00 am

Portraits of the 270 Women Who Fight San Francisco’s Fires

A new photography book profiles the city's trailblazing female firefighters.

San Francisco fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White speaks to the media about the fire at a multi-story building under construction in Mission Bay neighborhood of San Francisco on March 11, 2014. (Photo by Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
San Francisco fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White speaks to the media about the fire at a multi-story building under construction in Mission Bay neighborhood of San Francisco on March 11, 2014. (Photo by Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Getty Images

A new photography book introduces the world to the pioneering women of the San Francisco Fire Department, which had never hired a woman up until 1987. According to Wired, photographer Christie Hemm Klok was inspired to start shooting portraits of women firefighters after her three-year-old son became obsessed with all things firefighting, and Hemm Klok realized how infrequently women firefighters were depicted.

Though the 270 women of the San Francisco Fire Department make up only 16% of the force, that number is astronomical compared to the demographics of the New York City Fire Department, where female firefighters comprise just one-half of one percent of the force. The mission of Hemm Klok’s book, The Women of SFFD, was to make more visible the fact that many firefighters are women.

“We hear that representation matters all the time, and it really does,” Hemm Klok told Wired. “It’s so reassuring to see yourself not left out of things.”