Girls in Chesapeake, Virginia are blazing a trail for other females to pursue a future as a firefighter, all thanks to a special summer program.
Established eight years ago in Tucson, Arizona, Mic reports that the Camp Fury summer program “introduces girls to the skills necessary for becoming a firefighter,” and this year, the camp was brought to the girls of Chesapeake, Virginia by the Chesapeake Fire Department and the Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast.
Twenty girls are participating in the program, says Mic, but spending the night in the fire station and taking rides in the fire engines aren’t all the girls get to do.
“They also train with 30 pounds of equipment, including full turnout gear and self-contained breathing apparatuses, or SCBA masks. They learn forcible entry with axes and Halligan bars, they train in search and rescue, and they hold down a hose line with the full force of a fire hydrant behind them,” reports ABC News.
The girls also do an aerial climb, according to ABC News — something that Chesapeake firefighter and program manager Mandy George says makes even adult firefighters cower.
“It’s very high, very steep and most of the girls have never done anything like that,” she told ABC News.
What’s more is that these future firefighters aren’t just learning the ropes from males in the field; instead, Kaitlin Smith — a spokeswoman for Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast — told ABC News that female firefighters are those running the program.
“It’s mostly female firefighters running the camps,” Smith said. “They realize there’s a lot more to being a firefighter and they develop a well-rounded view. Being able to talk to women in the firefighter service, seeing the things they get to do makes it a more real career option for them.”
Beyond the physical training, participants also get to hear from guest speakers, who range in occupation from “female pilots with the Navy to special agents with the FBI,” reports ABC News.
So has the camp made some girls want to pursue a career as a firefighter? George says so, according to ABC News, and she hopes that they always remember the skills and lessons they learned from the program.
“I hope that they know that it’s not necessarily brute force that allows them to do this,” she said, “but that skill is involved and they can push through their fears and conquer them, that being uncomfortable and taking on new challenges is okay.”