The leaders of the U.S. Fire Administration and the International Association of Fire Chiefs speak in the public service announcement calling for an end to sexual crimes in the fire and emergency services. (Aneta Wenklar-Dyrkacz photo)

PSA Calls for End to Sexual Crimes in Fire and Emergency Services

"Our message is clear: There is no place for sexual assault or sexual harassment in the fire service," said Laura Baker, deputy chief of the Tucson Fire Department and president of the International Association of Women in Fire and Emergency Services.

The leaders of the International Association of Fire Chiefs, Chief William Metcalf, and the U.S. Fire Administration, Administrator Ernest Mitchell, both speak in a new, 3:22 public service announcement that calls on leaders of all fire and emergency services departments to take action to prevent sexual assaults, sexual harassment, and related criminal acts.

The Fairfax, Va.-based International Association of Women in Fire and Emergency Services (iWomen) posted it Oct. 10, and it's available here on the iWomen website. It was created by iWomen with assistance from IAFC and Comcast Cable in Baltimore.

"Our message is clear: there is no place for sexual assault or sexual harassment in the fire service," said iWomen President Laura Baker, deputy chief of the Tucson Fire Department. "We are urging everyone in the fire service to take a stand against this behavior. It should not be tolerated against our own or any others."

Mitchell is a past president of IAFC. The video originally was released in August 2014 during the opening general session of Fire-Rescue International, IAFC's annual conference.

"The integrity of the fire service as a whole can be destroyed by acts of sexual harassment and sexual assault, including rape committed by a few members across the nation, if those actions are not confronted and handled aggressively," Mitchell says in the video.

"We must take a stand," Metcalf says, "that this type of behavior will not be tolerated against our members or anyone else. To be subjected to threatening words, harassing behaviors, and sexual assault is unacceptable."

Both asked fire service leaders to take concrete steps to eradicate sexual assault, sexual harassment, and related conduct from their departments and enforce policies that prevent them.

According to iWomen, there are approximately 6,200 women serving as career firefighters in the United States and an estimated 40,000 in volunteer, paid on call, part time, and seasonal units.

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