Laurel, Md., Housewives Fight Fire
Shouldering heavy lengths of hose and clmbing fire ladders is just an everyday job for ten Laurel, Md., women. When the siren shrieks, they drop their housework, jump into overalls and rush out to battle flames.
Ranging in age from twenty-seven to fifty-two, and including two grandmothers, members of the group have taken to fire fighting as easily as keeping house.
Fire Chief Norris Beall of the Laurel, Md., Fire Department, got the idea of having women firemen soon after the armed forces began making inroads on fire department manpower.
He suggested that about eight members of the Women’s Auxiliary learn to fight fires. Ten took training and now they handle all the daytime fires with the help of any available men.
Mrs. Gertrude Beall, captain of the group and sister-in-law of the Fire Chief, Said things “were pretty bad” at first when there were four or five brush fires every day. But the women soon got into the swing of things, and now they handle the huge fire trucks and heavy hose lines like trained firemen.
Captain Beall and two other women serve as drivers, while all members are qualified to give first aid. They were trained by Chief Beall and Captain Norris Beard and still drill twice daily.
The group got its first taste of smoke on a forest fire soon after they were organized. They had to carry fifty-pound backpack pumps and fire rakes.