WATCH | This firefighting crew are all women and they’re sending stereotypes up in flames
The flames crawl forward, licking the foliage as the landscape turns to ash. A band of women stand strong against the inferno. Behind them, Charl Steenkamp has his camera at the ready.
When a fire breaks out, many expect a team of men to contain it. But South Africa’s first-ever all-female brigade is blazing a trail of inclusivity, and Steenkamp is documenting this historic moment.
With the continuous outbreaks in the Western Cape, more firefighters are needed to brave the heat.
Steenkamp is the branch manager of NCC Environmental Services, who have set forth to empower and train 15 women as firefighters. Their name – Juliet Crew. “Fire sees no gender,” Steenkamp says.
The squad’s first battle was against a fire in the wetlands of Noordhoek, where they fought back the flames and saved the ecosystem.
Their achievements must not go unseen. By capturing their work, Steenkamp is illuminating their dedication and fearlessness.
“Being male, being white, having a relatively stable upbringing, I’ve had opportunities that a lot of these women have never had and if I can give them some opportunity to go somewhere then I think I’ve done a little bit in helping the world,” he says. “I will champion women’s rights wherever I go.”
While fighting for our safety, these firefighters are igniting a movement of inclusion, not only for our country but for the world.