This award recognizes an individual's commitment to the goals and objectives of FSWO and their contribution to the fire service and their community. The award recognizes a FSWO member who has proven to be an innovative leader who has blazed a trail for others to follow. They have made outstanding contributions to women in the fire service, including: inspiration to others; an excellent role model; positively influences the actions and opinions of others; encourages and supports colleagues; shows initiative; perseveres in the face of criticism or adversity; has high ethical standards; is willing to ‘go that extra mile’; builds trust and is able to form partnerships to resolve issues; and maintains a positive outlook.
Karen SImpson has been with FSWO right from the beginning and played a leading role in the successful launch and continual growth of FSWO. She was part of a very committed and special group of women who first met at the inaugural Girls in Gear Session at Lambton College and was instrumental in developing the vision that would eventually become FSWO. Her unrelenting support, mentorship and advocacy for women in the fire service both in Canada and Internationally has played a leading role in positively influencing the diversification of fire services across North America. She has served on the Boards of the International Association of Women in Fire and Emergency Services and Fire Service Women Ontario. Further, as a career fire-fighter for ten years and now as a highly regarded and respected lawyer, this trailblazer continues to mentor, educate, coach, counsel and sponsor emergency service workers including the members of FSWO.
She stepped away from the FSWO Board a few years ago but is a lifelong member who continues to give her time and support to this organization. It is with pleasure and honour that this year’s President’s Trailblazer Award goes to Karen Simpson.