Female Denver firefighters change the way tradition operates in their field, reach 2.5 million views on TikTok


Female Denver firefighters change the way tradition operates in their field

Female Denver firefighters change the way tradition operates in their field


Denver is home to one of the nation’s largest populations of women firefighters. Through a group called Women Firefighters of Denver these women have joined forces.

This month some of the dozens of women of WFFD spoke with CBS about what has brought them all together.



Firefighter Rainy Santillanez has been with the Denver Fire Department for a little over a year now. She says being a firefighter has always been a dream of hers.

“I was a bad kid. I set my grandma’s rose bush on fire and actually believe (a Fire Station 20 crew) responded to that. They just kind of told me ‘Hey’s it’s bad to start fires it can hurt a lot of people’ and from there I was kind of hooked,” said Santillanez.



Santillanez says she’s proud to be part of WFFD. It’s an employee resource group geared to advocate and uplift women firefighters.

In Denver, women firefighters make up about 8% of the department, which sounds small but is one of the highest percentage of women firefighters in the nation.

“We are few and far between in the department,” explained WFFD president Elaine Higginbotham.

She says the group formed when certain things needed to be addressed on the job by women for women.

WFFD has worked to advocate for a workplace that better caters to the needs of women. Matters such as pregnancy, maternity leave, different training techniques and mentorship of other women have all been discussed and advocated for in the group. Three years ago WFFD also worked to get uniforms that would fit women firefighters properly.

WFFD has not only received recognition from the community, but this “girl power” has also has become recognized globally. With over 2.5 million views on their Tik Tok channel, these Denver firefighters are changing the way tradition operates in their field.

“I see us expanding nationally in terms of what we can do to help facilitate women being successful not only in Denver but across the nation,” said Carly Helwick, one of the founders of WFFD. 

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