New policy to accommodate pregnant firefighters in Federal Way

The final week of Women's History Month is delivering some more firsts in our region, especially for local women firefighters.

Earlier this month, King County swore in its first female fire chief. Now, another agency has implemented a new policy to accommodate pregnant firefighters.

Other agencies have policies like this in the region, but it's a first for South King Fire & Rescue. In fairness, it didn't need policies like this in place in the past, because it didn't have any pregnant firefighters on the line before.

That all changed last year, when two of their firefighters announced they were expecting. Now, there's a plan to protect all female firefighters to come.

Lieutenant Ann Hoag is one of the first female firefighters at South King Fire & Rescue to continue her work on the lines while she was pregnant.

"We all of a sudden realized we need to establish a policy that is going to help take care of them and their expecting children," said Capt. Brad Chaney, South King Fire & Rescue.

South King Fire and Rescue reached out to Renton Fire Department, which already had policies in place for maternity leave and pregnant firefighters on the job, then made a few modifications.

Essentially, the policy says any pregnant woman can choose when they want to switch to light-duty service.

"The policy is great," Lt. Hoag said. "It's short, it leaves flexibility for what each woman decides and what her doctor or provider thinks is best for that person."

Before this, the policies in place for expecting parents at South King were mainly for men, as fire departments historically are made of up of male firefighters.

"If you have your child on a day when you are on duty—meaning parents had children—then you can have the rest of that shift off and the shift after that," Lt. Hoag said. 

Which, wouldn't work for a mom recovering from giving birth.

This new policy protects women at South King who choose to have a family and want to continue their work on the lines.

"The women who came before us dealt with much worse so that we wouldn't even have to think about that," Lt. Hoag said.

Lt. Hoag and firefighter Amanda Weed thank the women who came before them. Now, they helped write history for the women to come.

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"I like to think about what we're dealing with now, we are dealing with so that the women who come after us don't even have to question it," Lt. Hoag said. "So, that is really cool thinking that whoever comes next, they won't have to question if there's a policy. They won't have to question if they have a job if they can have a family and do this job."