2017 IW Winners

Tradeswoman of the Year - Thunder Bay

Stephanie Drost and Ceilidh Boyd

Stephanie Drost and Ceilidh Boyd

When Stephanie Drost and Ceilidh Boyd were hired to join the Thunder Bay Fire Rescue as the department’s first two female firefighters, both thought of it as an incredible accomplishment. Not the being the first women part, necessarily. It was more about being the best of the best in a job they loved.

“I’ve always wanted to become a firefighter,” Drost said. At one point she left that childhood dream behind to follow a different career path, and came back around to firefighting almost by accident. “I did forest firefighting as a summer job, and I loved it. I loved the hands-on work.”

Drost never approached the job thinking she would become a role model, though she realizes now what an influence she’s been.

“Being the first two female firefighters, I’ve gotten a lot of response from that. A lot of girls have told me, ‘Wow, that’s really cool!’ and said it’s something they might like to try too.”

“It feels like a bigger deal now than it did when I started.”

Boyd feels the same way.

“Sometimes, people come up to me when we are at work and want to shake my hand. I think that’s made me realize what a big deal it is,” Boyd said.

Like Drost, Boyd started on a different career path, going to university for kinesiology and education. She too worked her summers fighting forest fires, and actually met Drost in Alberta one season. They applied for the positions in Thunder Bay at the same time.

“I ended up in forest firefighting in kind of a roundabout way,” Boyd said. “I decided to give it a shot, and I really enjoyed it.”

Going for one of six positions against 270 applicants is daunting no matter what the job. The fact that firefighting is such a male-dominated profession added another dimension perhaps, but ultimately had little impact on the purely performancedriven testing process.

“It was maybe a little harder for them to get used to us than for us to get used to them. Since we had worked in that field before, we were used to it. But it was new for them because they have never worked in firefighting with a woman before,” Drost said.

Boyd said she and Drost forged a fast camaraderie during testing and training. “I’m glad we were there together, and that’s made a bond that will last there forever. I don’t think either one of us had any really hardships – our crew class was pretty amazing. But still, it’s nice to have someone to share the change room with and have jokes.”

Deputy Fire Chief Greg Hankkio said that they both showed “tremendous drive and desire to be a firefighter” during training.

“Both Stephanie and Ceilidh did an outstanding job in all phases of training,” Hankkio wrote in his nomination letter. “They have proven to be a beneficial addition to Thunder Bay Fire Rescue, and we are proud to have them as representatives serving our community.”

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