Mother and daughter become first in 150 years to serve side-by-side at Tooting Fire Station

A mother and daughter have made history by becoming the first to serve side-by-side as London firefighters at Tooting Fire Station.

Katie Holloway, 22, has just joined Tooting Fire Station — the same station her mother, Station Manager Sally Harper, was first posted to when she passed out as a firefighter back in 1988.

They are the first mother and daughter to serve at the same station in London Fire Brigade’s 150-year history.

Katie is one of more than 300 women firefighters serving in London today, compared with only seven when her mother first started.

She said: “I’m immensely proud of the work my mum and others have done for women in the fire service, which makes it a completely different experience to when she joined.”

Katie and Sally firefighters 2, LFBDREAM TEAM: Katie is doing her mum proud

Katie has dreamt of being a firefighter since she was a child.

Her mother Sally said: “Being a woman firefighter you become a role model for the next generation and I’m so pleased that Katie is following in my footsteps.”

Sally, who is planning to retire later this year, said the Brigade has changed a lot since she joined in the late 80s — when her locker was a cupboard accessed via the men’s changing room.

She said: “After giving birth to my first daughter, Joanne, I was the first firefighter to come back to station after having a baby and attitudes towards women were sometimes very challenging.

“It’s so heartening to hear Katie’s experience has been completely different and that everyone has welcomed her on the watch and been so supportive.”

The public’s attitudes to women firefighters has also changed over the decades.

Sally said: “When Katie was at play school she once pretended to be the driver and the teacher asked ‘what are you driving?’ She said ‘I’m driving a fire engine like my mum’.

“The teacher tried to correct her and said ‘don’t you mean your dad?’ and Katie came straight back with ‘No! Like my mum.'”

Young Katie firefighter, LFBMINI ME: Katie was destined to follow in her mum’s footsteps

Sally, who was also involved in setting up the Juvenile Fire Intervention Scheme, which helps children who demonstrate a dangerous fascination with fire, said it will be hard to leave the job.

She said: “I love my job so much and it will be difficult to leave. But I’m proud of the achievements we’ve all made in making the fire service a much better environment for women to work in.”

London Fire Commissioner Rob Dobson said: “I’m delighted that Katie has followed in her mother’s footsteps and joined the London Fire Brigade.

“The achievement is extra special as it comes when we celebrate our 150th anniversary.

“Sally is a fantastic role model and has done so much to change attitudes towards men in the fire service.

“I wish Katie every success in her career and will be sad to see Sally retire later this year.”

Images courtesy of the London Fire Brigade, with thanks

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