The City of Red Deer has its first-ever female fire captain.
Twenty years ago, Clare Guse became the first female firefighter in the city, and recently, she made history again by being promoted to captain.
“It’s interesting, because it feels like I got hired just yesterday, but it was 20 years ago. Time flies by fast,” said Guse.
“It feels good (to be captain). It feels like the right time and I’ve put in a lot of years. I’ve seen a lot of change over that time. It feels like a real privilege to be in that position to help keep people safe.”
Guse will serve as the captain for Station 3, near the Collicutt Centre.
“It feels nice to have one hall, and mainly one set of people I’m with,” said Guse.
“It’s an honour to be in the position, that’s for sure. I work with some amazing guys and it makes that role easy when you work with competent and professional people.”
Fire Chief Ken McMullen, who has been with Red Deer Emergency Services for 19 months, said Guse is a major asset.
“In my short time that I’ve got the opportunity to work with Clare, she really is an outstanding member of Red Deer Emergency Services as a firefighter/paramedic,” said McMullen.
“Not only does she do some great work within Red Deer Emergency Services, she’s also heavily involved in some of our charity groups we participate in to ensure some of the underprivileged in our communities get Christmas gifts at Christmas – and that’s just one example.”
Guse is also “instrumental” in health and wellness programs within the department, said McMullen.
There are steps within the system to prepare individuals to become captains, he said.
“There are exams they have to take in order to qualify for an officer position within Red Deer Emergency Services, and Clare has done that with no issues whatsoever,” he said, adding seniority is a factor as well.
McMullen said he wants the department to be as welcoming to everyone as possible.
“I hope 20 years from now, we don’t have to talk about the first of anything, particularly when it comes to gender, diversity or inclusion,” said McMullen.
“I’m very proud to be the current chief in an organization where not only is it accepted, but it’s encouraged. We want all females within this job to feel this is a safe, caring place where they can come to work and strive to do their very best.
“Not only that, but the opportunities to advance into leadership roles.”