Josephine Reynolds was Britain’s first full-time female firefighter.
In 1982, at the age of 17, Josephine joined the Norfolk Fire Service.
As a trailblazer, Jo proved during her tough training that it was possible for a woman to be an equal among her male firefighting colleagues.
Determined not to be the weakest link, she experienced exhaustion and exhilaration, grief and camaraderie. She dug deep, challenging social norms and the deep-rooted macho culture that still permeates 30 years later, and was able to prove that women can make great firefighters too.
More recently, Josephine was recognised as one of the women changing history by BBC Radio 5 during their #5livefirsthundredwomen campaign.
After seven years’ service, she left the fire brigade to work on expeditions in remote regions overseas.
Free-spirited and adventurous, this nomadic lifestyle suited her and meant that she found ways to follow her heart, and live a life that is true to her.
Josephine joined expeditions in South America and S.E. Asia. This period of Josephine’s life working and volunteering in other cultures ignited a curiosity and passion that drove her on to her next chapter.
In 2000, Josephine founded The Silk Road Design Co with a Trading Company in Shenzhen Southern China. She created bespoke home-ware products for challenging and demanding UK multiple retailers.
After six successful years, Jo sold her business and UK home and moved to the island of Koh Samui, Thailand.
This nomadic lifestyle exposed Jo to vast inequalities, how indiscriminate politics, poverty, war and natural disasters decimated lives, creating destroyed and forgotten populations.
Determined to give them a voice, she moved to Cambodia as a volunteer, becoming an ambassador to a locally run NGO Build Your Future Today Center. Influenced and encouraged by humanitarian writers and photographers, Jo found her voice and started to write.
Josephine, now in her 50s, has released an exceptional memoir, Fire Woman: The Extraordinary Story of Britain’s First Female Firefighter.
In the book, Josephine recounts her firefighting career, giving readers a glimpse of her immense triumphs and crushing defeats. From the daily post-training vomiting sessions brought on by fatigue and the feelings of loneliness (as the only woman in the position) to the emotional strain of responding to horrific road accidents and suicides, to the eventual and powerful camaraderie she gained among the members of her squad.
Josephine Reynolds embraces her role as a Diversity Role Model and a “Woman to Watch“. Whether it’s a school careers day, a celebration of women’s achievements, or fire brigades around the world, Jo inspires her audiences, keeping it real and changing culture along the way.
Speaking topics include:
- Organisational Culture
Catch Jo demonstrating her hose skills in the new Flopro commercial.