WHITE CITY, Ore. — In an effort to recruit more women into firefighting careers, local fire agencies held a three-day camp this weekend for young women to get hands-on experiences in the fire service.
The Rogue Girls Fire Camp is the first ever fire camp for young women in the Rogue Valley. There are fewer than a dozen female firefighters in both Jackson and Josephine counties.
“What a great opportunity for young girls, young women, who may have an interest or do have an interest in fire fighting as a career,” Chief Bob Horton, Jackson County Fire District 3, said.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, there is only about 4 percent of female firefighters nationwide.
“There’s just simply isn’t the numbers I think in terms of the applications that we’re seeing for firefighters,” Chief Horton said.
In an effort to boost that percentage, 18 aspiring firefighters from around the Rogue Valley and northern California took part in a three-day girls fire camp.
“I’ve always wanted to be a firefighter since I was 5 or 6,” Skyler Artale, participant, said.
“I’m a very physical person, I like to move, I like to run, I like to do stuff that challenges me,” Lena Emerson, participant, said.
The participants experienced three different hands-on scenarios including vehicle extrication, repelling from a large building, and a smoked filled simulation rescue all led by women who do this job every day.
“It was definitely a lot harder to see than I thought it would be and it’s a lot harder to move around with all of our gear on.”
Organizers say this year’s camp was a success. They received a lot of applications from young women interested in pursuing this work and they’re hopeful that will translate into an even larger camp next year.
“This is going to be an ongoing thing and we certainly from a fire chief prospective would love to see it come in year after year, get bigger and better and grow and be able to provide such great opportunities,” Chief Horton said.
“It’s a lot of fun and I think that more females should be able to come up and do their best and try,” Artale said.
For more information, visit Rogue Girls Fire Camp on Facebook.