Age: 61. 
Profession: Fire chaplain. 
Location: Kendal, England

What does a fire chaplain do? They serve the Fire and Rescue Service, as we call the fire department here. Fire chaplains complement secular support methods like counseling. We offer confidential listening to Fire Service members, for example, and some chaplains can be asked to provide support at and after incidents and emergencies. I recently received a pair of steel-toe-capped nonslip shoes to ensure my safety if called to incidents.

Sakyadhita International Association for Buddhist Women has credited you as the first-ever female Buddhist fire chaplain. How do you feel about that? Delighted, honored. I’m grateful to everybody who helped me get this wonderful opportunity. Hopefully this will inspire more women to volunteer for similar roles and show them that it’s possible for them to do so.

Did you expect the kind of attention that this has garnered? I think people are interested when you’re the first to do something. If somebody breaks a glass ceiling, it’s exciting because something new becomes achievable. Most people in the Fire Service are still men; certainly the firefighters are. I still remember when the first woman became a firefighter in the United Kingdom [in the 1970s]. When my father was a firefighter, the Service was all men.

Did your interest in becoming a fire chaplain have to do with your father? In England we see the Fire Service as a family, which includes the children of firefighters. I’m very happy that I’ve been part of that family. My father was a very safety-conscious person. Even when I was a small child, he was always teaching me about safety—how to get out of buildings, how to help younger children out, and so forth.

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