Former member of all-female Buffalo Gap Volunteer Fire Department shares her experience

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BUFFALO GAP, Texas (KTAB) – In 1982, the Buffalo Gap Volunteer Fire Department was made up of all women, with the exception of the fire chief.
While there were many challenges for the women, one of the former volunteers shares how her department helped pave the way for women in predominately male lines of work. 
“We had one girl who drove truck,” former volunteer Shirley Roberson says. “Other girls did the pump, and the other girls, we just did the hoses.”
Roberson was in her mid-40’s and working at a store while she served on the Buffalo Gap Volunteer Fire Department. She says many of the men in town were working in Abilene, leaving only women to fight the fires.
“There wasn’t any men there,” she explains. “It wasn’t anything unusual at the time. We just wanted to do it, then it just kind of snowballed into being a big deal. The men made a lot of fun of us. It made us more determined to be a good fire department when they started making fun of us and stuff.”
Roberson and the rest of the department fought fires during rain, shine, sleet, or snow. She says they mainly fought brush fires and an occasional house fire.
“One Christmas morning of probably ’83 or ’84, man it was cold and everything,” she recalls. “Sleet was hitting our face and it was probably 25 degrees and someone called in a grass fire.”
Roberson and her fellow firefighters helped pave the way for other women to follow in their footsteps.
“I think that fire department was really the main thing that made women want to go to the fire department,” she says. “I really think we made a way for them.”
Shirley’s advice to young women wanting to enter fields like this:
“If you want to do it baby, just go do it,” she says. “That’s all I can tell you. Don’t listen to the men, because if they want to rag you and tear you down, they can, but don’t let them.” 

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