Charlottesville Fire Department hopes the word ‘fireman’ will become an obsolete term by inviting girls to check out the profession at a Girls Fire and Rescue Camp.
The department’s first-ever camp runs July 26 to July 29 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m at the department’s Fontaine Station. It will include age-appropriate physical training, classes and fire and emergency medical simulations to teach girls more about the profession.
The camp is open to girls age 12 through 17 who are city residents.
“If [girls] can’t see it, they think they can’t do that. They don’t believe that they can achieve it or that they can become something,” said Fire Captain Lance Blakey. “We want to change that. We want women to see that they can be a firefighter.”
Blakey said that in 2020 only three women served with the city fire department. Today the department employs nine women and wants to see that number go up even further. This camp is part of that effort.
“Historically, the fire service has not always been very open to women. It’s always been seen to be a male dominated profession. But the fire service has changed over the years,” Blakey said. “We want to make our department open to all people, and not only that, we want to make sure that our culture in our fire department is one that people will be welcomed in so they feel included in our department.”
Blakey said the idea for the camp arose after considering a variety of ideas the department developed for getting into the community. The camp is in line with the department’s strategic plan which calls for making the department more diverse, equitable and inclusive.
The camp will teach participants a variety of fire and emergency medical skills, including Stop The Bleed training and basic hands-only CPR.
“What we want is for these young ladies to not just come here and learn information about the fire service, but also take back some skills so that they can help not only in their community, but in their homes,” Blakey said.
The camp will also introduce participants to the various jobs and career paths in the fire department that go beyond just fighting fires, including emergency medical, technical rescue and community risk reduction. The camp not only will introduce participants to the often overlooked aspects of the fire service, but also show all the varying career opportunities in the fire service.
Those interested in participating in the camp can apply by visiting tinyurl.com/2948td35. Applications close July 19.