« Every day confronts me with the unexpected, adrenaline and urgency »
For three years, Candice Guillaume has been working as a volunteer firefighter in Port-sur-Saône, a town of 3,000 inhabitants 15 km from Vesoul, the prefecture of Haute-Saône. The 24-year-old is also a nurse in the emergency department of Vesoul hospital. A double function which leads her to chain working hours. An accomplished sportswoman, passionate about the tasks she performs in the barracks with her 35 colleagues, Candice Guillaume has also passed the water rescue training: a specialty to which this swimming enthusiast is very attached. This year, she decided to devote herself fully to her passion by taking the professional firefighter competition, which she passed. She is now awaiting her final tenure in one of the barracks in Haute-Saône.
The Cross The Weekly : What makes you get up in the morning ?
Candice William: What makes me smile and makes me happy is knowing that I am going to exercise my passion, that of being a volunteer firefighter. Every day, I like this surpassing of myself which makes me feel useful in this barracks.
I am proud to be a firefighter here in Port-sur-Saône, in the region where I was born and where I have always lived. Beyond this passion, I like the fact of having a very rhythmic schedule between the job of firefighter, that of nurse and my sports activities. I really don’t have time to be bored!
At work, how is it going?
CG: I’m lucky to have an exceptional work team at the barracks. We all get along very well, we share our love of sport and the beautiful values of the profession, such as rigorous work, questioning and above all team cohesion. I appreciate the diversity of the missions we have as volunteer firefighters, between victim assistance, roadside assistance and fire management.
I never tire of the demands of this job which confronts me daily with the unexpected, adrenaline and urgency. All this while maintaining the human and relational aspect, which remains essential. During interventions, for example, I find my reflexes as a nurse: I take the hand, I try to have a little word of comfort.
Who do you trust?
CG: I know that I can count on my work team at the barracks. In general, I trust people who leave responsibilities to me. This is particularly the case of my chief warrant officer, a man of experience who is constantly listening. I can ask him questions about the job and I know he will answer me with kindness. Outside of work, I also blindly trust my closest friends. I always manage to find time in my schedule to see them.
Has a scene marked you recently? Tell us.
CG: I remember a television report where we saw European firefighters coming to the aid of the French who were fighting against the fires in Gironde. Seeing entire columns of Polish firefighters arriving in France really gave me chills. This solidarity touched me, especially when you see how difficult the summer was, between the droughts and the forest fires. And it will not work out: every year, we observe that the fires are more and more numerous. As firefighters and key players in civil security, we will therefore be the first to be confronted with the increase in natural disasters. In Haute-Saône, our barracks were not directly impacted this summer, but we remain particularly vigilant due to the severe drought.
Right now, what would change your life?
CG: I look forward to my tenure as a professional firefighter. I worked a lot this year to get there, I sometimes chained sixty hours of work per week, between daily work, sport and night guards. The sacrifice was worth it, since I will soon be able to live my passion 100%.
And for tomorrow, an idea to change the world?
CG: I don’t have a specific idea to put in place, but what is close to my heart in my everyday life and in my work is equality between women and men. I think it’s necessary to go beyond prejudice: even in a difficult job like mine, women can surpass themselves and achieve the same goals as men.
I remember that in our old barracks, the women’s locker room was tiny and dilapidated compared to the men’s. Now we are thirteen women in Port-sur-Saône, and I know that in France too the number of women firefighters has not stopped increasing (1). I am very inspired, in particular, by the figure of Françoise Mabille (first woman to become a firefighter in France in 1976, Ed), who struggled so that women could also practice this profession. If I had a message to pass on, it’s that women shouldn’t denigrate themselves: if they want to work in a male-dominated profession, they must trust each other and can succeed as well as men.