Growing up, Kris Prescott contemplated becoming a firefighter. It was a lifelong dream that Prescott continued to push to the back of her mind since the fire service only showcased strong, physically fit, men. This one-sided marketing led to Kris believing that she couldn’t be a firefighter; until one day, she received a flyer in the mail about her local fire department’s recruitment session. After reading the flyer, she thought, "Why not take myself up on MY dream?".
In July of 2021, Kris arrived at the department’s recruitment session which is usually an orientation of the entire recruitment process. In the email she received, the candidates were told to wear business casual attire. To Kris, business casual meant a nice blouse, dress pants, and heels/flats- which is what she showed up in. As she looked around, she noticed others had on nice shirts and jeans. “Business casual is different to everyone!”, Kris exclaimed as she recalled her experience. At the end of their orientation, the planners explained the physical agility test that they would have to go through to make it through the first phase of hiring.
The agility test includes, raising a ladder with a rope, climbing the ladder and touching the roof of a building, using the Keizer-sled, carrying a 24ft ladder off a truck and around cones, dragging a 180lbs dummy 50 yards, extending a hose 100 feet and bringing back a charged hose 50 feet, and carrying an apartment bundle of hose up a flight of steps and hoisting it over a railing then carrying it up and down a flight of steps twice. This agility test must be completed under 10 minutes. After this test was explained to Prescott, the planners told her she had the opportunity to practice it first before the official timer began.
Despite her 1 ½ inch heels, Kris was not going to give up her practice time! She kicked off her shoes and completed the agility test barefoot with make-up on, fancy hair, and business casual clothes. She remembers when she completed the test that it was extremely warm out and she was soaked in sweat (that is when the firefighters running the orientation told her they would have let her go home to change first)! Kris has a lot of pride in the fact that she stayed with the group and completed the course although her clothes may have been seen as somewhat restrictive.
Kris is now a firefighter on the Elk River Fire Department and is very glad to be living out her lifelong dream to become a firefighter. Her new motto is “Why the heck not!” If you have a dream, go after it, don’t wait to kick off your heels. NOW, is the right time.
This article was written by Marketing Coordinator & Recruitment Officer for MN Fire Hire, Natalie Streich. Natalie is a female firefighter whose goal is to share what it is like to be a woman in the fire service. Not only does she share her story on going through recruitment; she also shares other women's stories in hopes to inspire others. If you know someone who would be a great feature on MN Fire Hire, contact Natalie by emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org.