Temple Fire & Rescue celebrates International Women's Day

In honor of International Women’s Day on March 8, Temple Fire & Rescue is shining the spotlight on its two female firefighters.  

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), only 11 percent of firefighters are female. Despite the small numbers, 30-year-old Stephanie Rauch and 25-year-old Ray Cole feel right at home. 

“My dad was the one who mentioned the idea about looking into the fire services and I immediately knew it was something that seemed up my alley,” said Rauch.  

Rauch grew up in Troy and started looking into joining the fire department after being a teacher and assistant coach for five years.  

Cole is from Austin and started her journey after working in the jail for Williamson County.  

“My girlfriend who actually was from Temple, told me the fire department was hiring and I quickly threw my name in the hat, Cole said. 

At the time they were both seeking for a career with an active lifestyle and strong community engagement. Now, they work the same shifts and are learning together. 

“I like the fact that we respond to all sorts of types of calls and we have great camaraderie at the station. I just like the feeling of a team,” said Rauch. 

“It’s a job where you feel like you’re not coming to work every single day. It never feels like work when I’m here,” said Cole.  

However, before becoming a part of the team, Rauch and Cole admit to having some doubts.  

Cole said when she took the test to become a firefighter, there were four other females applying, who unfortunately didn’t it make through the physical portion of the exam.  

“I saw them all fail, so I was like, I don’t even know how I’m going to stay, but I ended up finishing,” said Cole.  

Rauch said she, on the other hand, was worried about the written portion of the exam.  

“I wanted to be as prepared as possible going into the exam and tried to find resources online because I didn’t know what to expect, but in the end I was like, I’ll give it a shot, I’ll take test and if it works out, it works out,” said Rauch. 

Aside from the fears they may have faced in the beginning, what helped both women easily transition into their role as firefighters was the willingness of the fire department to provide them with the tools and training they needed.  

Temple Fire & Rescue Fire Chief Mitch Randles says when it comes to hiring new recruits, he doesn’t worry about their background or where they come from, but rather their desire to want to serve the community and learn.  

“We work hard to hire the best people for the job,” said Randles. As firefighters and medics, we are there for people at the worst times of their lives and I want people on my teams that care, are committed and able to do the job, no matter anything else, because it’s our community needs and expectations that matters.” 

Cole and Rauch have been able to go out on a variety of calls that have provided them with once in a lifetime opportunities and experiences.   

“I feel like you get the opportunity to make memories a lot here and its never the same thing. The kind of things you can sit around the table and tell your kids or your grandkids later in life,” said Cole. 

Both say they would like to see more women join the fire department but only if it’s something they want to pursue and if they are the best people for the job. For anyone thinking about joining the department, Rauch and Cole recommend you prepare yourself for what you are going for and don’t create barriers for yourself.  

“If you know there’s a test or a physical element, do everything you can to prepare yourself,” said Rauch. 

“Do it if you want to be a firefighter. Do it for yourself and prove to yourself that you are able to do the job,” Cole said. “It really comes down to you and what you’re willing to put into it.” 

more stories