Women Need To Cross Their Mental Barriers, Says Taniya Sanyal, Indian Airport’s First Woman Firefighter
- IWB Post
- April 11, 2019
Last year, Kolkata-based Taniya Sanyal became the first ever woman firefighter to be appointed by the Airport Authority of India (AAI).
She always wanted to do something that was challenging, and firefighting just made her dream come true when the authorities brought a change in their existing rules, which only had men take up this job previously. Speaking to Femina, Sanyal recalled, “The moment I saw the advertisement for this position in a newspaper, I grabbed the opportunity.”
To take up this job, Sanyal had to clear a couple of tests which included medical, physical and driving tests. As firefighting is a physically demanding job, it was important for Sanyal to undergo physical endurance tests that required her to run, climb ladders, and carry a 40-kg sandbag for a distance of 60 meters to name a few.
Having completed her training at the Fire Training Centre in New Delhi, Sanyal was posted at the Kolkata Fire Training Centre as a trainer where she trained both men and a few aspiring women to be firefighters with the AAI. Her job requires Sanyal to help evacuate people in life-threatening situations using mobile high-performance vehicles, fight fires with a range of equipment such as hoses, foam branches, and monitors, participate in organised drills for fire control, and rescue work; conduct fire safety inspections; inspect fire alarm boards; test and maintain fire vehicles and other equipment; operate Fire Control Centres at airports; and observe aircraft arrivals and departures, among other things.
Sanyal’s physically demanding job not only requires her to be fit, but it also calls for the person in the given role to be mentally alert. Talking about it, she says, “Mental alertness is of utmost importance. Airport fire service is not only about firefighting, but also about rescue operations on aircraft. As per the International Civil Aviation Organisation rules, our response time is 138 seconds. So, you can imagine the kind of mental alertness we need.”
At present, Sanyal is training 61 aspirants from Bengaluru airport, and to stay fit she prefers to do freehand exercises rather than joining the gym. “My day starts at six every morning. I conduct physical training sessions, parades, technical learning classes, and teach trainees to handle fire equipment such as hoses, ladders, and other firefighting paraphernalia.”
Being a woman in a male-dominated field comes with its own challenges, but Sanyal believes that “Apart from physical barriers, women need to cross their mental barriers as well. Believe in yourself, set targets, and tell yourself that you can achieve whatever you want in life.”