Over the past 25 years, the Chapeau Les Filles/Hats Off to You! competition has highlighted a considerable number of women who have chosen a male-dominated trade or profession and demonstrated exemplary perseverance until they graduate.
One of this year’s winners was Sabrina Forrest Lefebvre, who is a student on firefighting at the Institut de Protection contre les Incendies du Québec (IPIQ) of the Centre de services scolaires de Laval.
A sports enthusiast, convinced of the importance of teamwork and mutual aid, she obtained a bachelor’s degree in physical education and worked for three years in the field before returning to her first flame. Appointed lieutenant in her class, she aspires to work for Montreal Fire Department, in the city where she grew up. Her next challenge? To have the chance to teach at the to reconnect with that other passion that still burns deep inside her.
I reached out to Sabrina to learn more. She just completed a diploma of professional studies in fire safety intervention at the IPIQ. In the fall, she will continue her education by completing training at Collège Montmorency in Laval. This enable her to get closer to joining the Montreal Fire Department by this time next year.
“I grew up with the desire to become a firefighter, just like my grandfather,” Sabrina says. “Unfortunately he passed away when I was still very young and I did not have the chance to have discussions with him about his career. As I got older, I didn’t have any other firefighters around me or any female role models, so I began to think that it probably wasn’t a career for me or for women. In high school, because I loved sports, teamwork and helping people, I decided to become a physical education teacher. A Bachelor’s degree in Health and Physical Education and three years of teaching experience later, my desire to become a firefighter was as strong as ever. Despite the fact that I had a career now established, I made the decision to listen to my heart and go back to school.
“This job appeals to me because it is action-oriented and not routine; it is a job that also answers my thirst for challenge and surpassing myself. Each intervention is different and each one requires us to do our best to help new people. Having the opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives through my work is very rewarding and also extremely motivating. I want to be able to give my best to every intervention. This is something that I always keep in mind and that helps me through my training and intense study periods. Finally, having always been a team player, I love that this is a job that requires everyone to work together towards a common goal. Everyone’s strengths are brought to the forefront to optimize the team’s productivity and this plays a crucial role in the outcome of the intervention.”
After gaining experience as a firefighter, Sabrina hopes to return to the IPIQ, but this time as a teacher. “This would allow me to combine my previous teaching skills with my second passion,” she says.
As for the award, Sabrina said “it is difficult to find the words to express how I feel about this award. I am extremely happy, but also very proud. Being selected as a winner validates my choices and actions and encourages me to continue to give my best and to make the necessary efforts to achieve my goals and dreams.”