FSWO announces 2021 winner of the President’s Trailblazer Award, Captain Tracey Shields

FSWO is pleased to present the President’s Trailblazer Award to Ottawa Fire Services Captain Tracey Shields. Nominated by FSWO Past President Louise Hine-Schmidt, the award recognizes Tracey as an inspirational leader who has shared the FSWO common vision to make a difference for women who are contemplating careers in the fire service.

Throughout her career and her involvement with FSWO, Tracey has regularly demonstrated her innovative leadership. Tracey began her career over 22 years ago as a full-time firefighter in 1999 and was one of the first three women hired into the suppression division of Ottawa Fire Services. Tracey has also been a supporting member of Fire Service Women Ontario since its inception in 2009 and was elected as a Director to the board in 2013. Her dedication to hard work has served as an inspiration to both men and women in the fire service making her a well-respected leader and mentor. Tracey has also successfully demonstrated that women can have both career and family and is the proud mother of four boys all born after she joined Ottawa Fire Services. She gained extensive experience working in different divisions of the fire service, proving herself an asset to her employer as she worked modified duties during her pregnancies.

In 2020, Tracey became the first woman to be promoted to Captain in the Suppression Division of the Ottawa Fire Service. She is a humble, quiet, and grounded officer who prefers to lead by example rather than be cast in the spotlight which includes a nomination like this one. We know she will be cringing as we describe her many attributes, but we can’t help it because she works so hard to make the fire service better for everyone. Tracey is a highly regarded individual who goes that extra mile with a smile and a positive outlook.

Throughout her fire career and work with FSWO, Tracey has understood the benefits of diversity and inclusion in the fire service and has been instrumental in advocating for the recruitment, retention and advancement of women. Tracey has demonstrated this commitment in making the fire service better for her and others by volunteering her time as a Camp FFIT Instructor and being one of the most productive FSWO Board members since it was established in 2009.

As a board member for eight years, Tracey has taken on several roles. Tracey currently serves as the FSWO Registrar, managing all email correspondence from our members in a timely and friendly way. She promotes and processes orders for FSWO swag which continues to enhance the FSWO brand. She has been a workhorse in helping to build the new and improved FSWO website. She has taken on these roles by learning as she goes and has become the unofficial technology guru for FSWO. When FSWO started a mentorship program several years ago, Tracey took on several mentees. She maintains many of these connections today and takes on new requests from women looking to get on the job. They say “If you want something done, then give it to a busy person”, and Captain Tracey Shields is definitely that person. She always has her hand up to help and she never says no. This also includes her involvement this past year in helping to develop FSWO’s new strategic plan and serving on the FSWO 2021 Symposium Committee and also the Membership Committee.

Captain Tracey Shields has made outstanding contributions to women in the fire service through her inspirational leadership, her positive influence with high ethical standards. Tracey is grounded and humble and worthy of recognition for her many contributions to FSWO and the fire service as an innovative trailblazer. It is with great pleasure that FSWO bestows this year’s President’s Trailblazer Award to Tracey Shields. Congratulations!

Nominator Chief Louise Hine-Schmidt