Harshini Kanhekar studied in an all-girls school, and she claims that she was not a bright student. But growing up, she always dreamt about joining the Indian Armed Forces.
Harshini became the first woman in 46 years to graduate from the National Fire Service College (NFSC) in Nagpur. She was the only girl student in the college and was advised not to join by everyone around. But she was determined to go ahead. She overcame the ridicule and undertook rigorous training.
“As I was the only girl, the college had to obtain special permission from the Home Ministry to allow me to go home after classes,” she says.
After graduation, Harshini was sent to a tin factory in Delhi where she even dealt with heavy water and suction hoses. She started her days early and practised hard to prove her capabilities.
In 2006, Harshini joined the Mehsana Fire Station in Gujarat — the second largest onshore production of the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation.
In 2010, she was transferred to Mumbai drilling services. She is the first woman in India to handle offshore drilling services like boarding a helicopter and conducting auditing.
On several occasions, the lady fought fire for more than six hours at a stretch and rescued civilians from floods, building collapses, wildlife attacks and more.
“No field of work belongs to any gender,” says the firefighter.
Here is a sneak peek into her brave journey:
Edited by Pranita Bhat