Female firefighters from Fairfax County addressed the media Wednesday in an attempt to cast a positive light on their department which is dealing with loss amid claims of bullying and harassment.
The group of women and men gathered at the fire station in Annandale several weeks following the suicide of firefighter Nicole Mittendorff. They say that following her death, the negative attention has hurt moral and diminished their standing the community.
The women said that they've had nothing but positive support - not only from the fire department but also from their male co-workers.
"Never once was I treated differently because of my gender - it simply didn't matter to them," said firefighter Alisha Reakoff at the announcement Wednesday. "Since graduating I've been received with open arms no matter where I've been. The men and women of this department have taught me everything I know. I've never been judged by anything other than my character and my personal work ethic. My gender has been a non-issue."
Community leaders and outside consultants are expected to investigate Mittendorff's death to determine how wide spread the allegations of bullying are.