A GROUP of women were put through their paces by Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service (HFRS) to mark International Women’s Day.

Nine HFRS support staff took part in a series of drills that simulated the tasks carried out by firefighters, including a search conducted while wearing full breathing apparatus.

They were joined by Cllr Chris Carter, chairman of Hampshire Fire and Rescue Authority, who took part in the activities.

Some of the women are considering applying to become on-call firefighters in their spare time while others just wanted an insight into the challenges faced by fire crews.

One of the office workers who took part was inclusion and diversity manager Leanne Illman.

She said: “It was a lot of fun but was also about giving more women a taste of what firefighters do and making people realise they can overcome challenges they may not have previously thought possible.”

Women dressed in full firefighting kit lifted weights in the appliance bay and practised running out hose reels.

Cllr Carter said: “The high calibre of our firefighters is well known - and has been highlighted by their hard work in exceptional conditions during the past week.

“I was delighted to take part in the event.

“It was extremely challenging although it was just a taste of the rigorous training our crews go through. I think everyone found it rewarding and enjoyable.

“I hope it will raise awareness that women really can consider pursuing a career as a firefighter - whether full-time or on-call.”

Administrator Fiona Sales added: “The activities increased my confidence in applying to become an on-call firefighter.

“I would love to help the community and spread the message that women can be firefighters.”