Remembering Nottinghamshire's first female firefighter this Women's History Month

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During a 1992 firefighter recruitment day, Lisa Crofts – who became the county’s first female firefighter – was asked, “Who are you here with, love?” Lisa went on to serve at Ashfield Fire Station and made Nottinghamshire history by following her dream of joining the fire service.

Lisa underwent a 13-year journey of job-hopping, trying to discover her true calling in life.

During her time as an insurance clerk, she reached a point of discouragement, but that same feeling of frustration and determination transformed her life and ultimately led her to join the Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service.

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When she decided to apply, she was unsure whether she was eligible to join.

Lisa in the cab of a fire engine.Lisa in the cab of a fire engine.
Lisa in the cab of a fire engine.

Although there were no specific rules about who could and couldn't apply to become a firefighter, her application was something that hadn't been seen before at Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service.

Lisa refused to be treated differently from the men. She lifted weights, ran sprints, donned the fire kit and flew through the day with flying colours.

In fact, she exceeded the expectations of most men on the drill ground.

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Lisa faced a challenge in 1996 when she became pregnant with her daughter, Ellie.

Lisa at her pass-out parade.Lisa at her pass-out parade.
Lisa at her pass-out parade.

As the fire service did not recognise maternity leave, Lisa had to return to work just three months after giving birth.

Ellie said: “Some of the men on mum’s training course didn’t think she had what it takes to be a firefighter, especially as the only woman on the course, but she did, and I am incredibly proud to be able to stand up in front of others to tell her story.

“Not only did mum get a name for herself by being Nottinghamshire’s first ever female firefighter, but she had also been selected to represent the British Fire Service in the International Police and Fire Indoor Games which was hosted in Colorado Springs – she smashed it and won both a gold and silver medal.”

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Unfortunately, Lisa was forced to retire due to an injury that compromised her vision.

This was a heartbreaking decision for her, as she did not want to leave the service.

Ellie added: “The point of telling her story is so little girls out there understand that their opportunities are endless.

“Growing up with a strong, fiercely independent mum, has helped me become a fiercely independent, and often stubborn, young woman too.

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“I remember mum­­­ telling me about another female firefighter who went into her local Mothercare and collected all the firefighter fancy dress outfits and moved them into the girl’s section. When she was asked by staff her reply was simple – ‘because girls can be firefighters too.’”

While Lisa may no longer be with us, her legacy lives on through Ellie, who continues to share her story.

This International Women's Day – and Women's History Month – Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service has paid tribute to Lisa and shared her remarkable story.

The service hopes sharing her journey will inspire other women to follow their dreams and become firefighters.