San Francisco's 30 years of women in the fire service: The stories, struggles and triumphs

There were a total of seven women in the SFFD in 1987; now, there are 285 uniformed women in the department


In 1987, there were a total of seven women divided among two San Francisco Fire Department academy classes. One of the seven was Shelia Hunter — the only African-American in the class.

Thirty years later, Hunter, who served two years as a captain of backgrounds and investigations, is now surrounded by 285 uniformed women in the department.

After her recent return to the field as a lieutenant at Station 33, Hunter said she stays inspired by working within the community and helping people.

"Seeing the faces of children and adults when they see not only a female firefighter, but an African-American female firefighter … when they give the thumbs up, it makes me feel really good," she said.

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