Spruce Grove Fire Services (SGFS) has added six female recruits to its crew.

Spruce Grove Fire had one female firefighter and usually received around 10 applications from women per year.

In an attempt to increase those numbers, SGFS completed a female-focused recruitment process in November 2018.

“There’s a rich pool of talent out there that’s in the females that aren’t applying, so we thought if we ran an exclusive female-only competition, we’d be able to tap into that resource and get some outstanding candidates,” Chief Robert Kosterman said.

Spruce Grove Fire received more than 70 female applications—about 50 more than expected—and hired six women.

“They’re a great group of candidates,” Kosterman said.

The six women are on their second week of a year-long training program customary for all hires.

“Everybody’s brought their strengths and weaknesses, and we’ve grown pretty close pretty quickly,” Rebecca Raikles told CTV News.

“The great thing is they’ve been super welcoming to all of us as recruits, and never really identified us as our gender.”

Raikles said SGFS has been “super welcoming” and that gender has not been a factor. If anything, she argued, women offer a different perspective and make the crew more balanced.

“When you walk into a situation, it might be a little bit easier to relate to a patient being a male or being a female.”

With files from CTV Edmonton’s Sarah Plowman