Golden State Women in Fire Service to host camp to empower young women in firefighting

March 7, 2024

Fairfield to host HERO Girls Fire Camp in April

Golden State Women in Fire Service, an organization focused on empowering young women, is set to host the HERo Girls Fire Camp in Fairfield this April.

The camp, aimed at high school-aged girls, seeks to introduce them to firefighting skills and inspire them towards careers in fire service, historically a male-dominated field.

Empowering young women through firefighting skills

Erika Enslin, the Founder and President of Golden State Women in Fire Service and a retired Captain of the Sacramento Fire Department, spoke about the camp’s goals: “Our program is designed to empower young women – for this camp, high school-aged girls – through firefighting skills,” Enslin said.

“Our camps are led by all professional women firefighters from around the region to show the girls women can and are doing the job.

“Girls often still get told they can’t do hard things and we are here to show them they can.”

Addressing gender disparity in fire service

The need for such programs is underscored by statistics from the National Fire Protection Association, which shows that women comprise only about 4 percent of career firefighters in the United States.

Moreover, a survey by the International Association of Women in Fire & Emergency Services (iWomen) revealed that only about 2 percent of fire chiefs in the US are women.

With these figures in mind, Enslin and her team of female firefighters aim to challenge these norms with the motto, “if you can see it, you can be it.”

They are dedicated to making young girls aware that women are capable and successful in firefighting and other traditionally male-dominated careers.

“We aim to bring together women in the fire service to network, mentor and empower young women,” Enslin explained.

“Through our camps, we hope to inspire and improve the diversity and gender equity of the fire service and to empower young women as they move forward in life.”

A diverse range of firefighter trainings

Scheduled for April 13-14 at Station 38 in Fairfield, the HERo Girls Fire Camp will offer hands-on firefighter trainings, including using chainsaws, hose handling, auto extraction, Search and Rescue, breaching and breaking, climbing ladders, CPR, and stop the bleed training.

Enslin highlighted the importance of these activities in building confidence and overcoming fears.

“We only ever have them do what they feel comfortable with, but we definitely want to push them to get out of their comfort zones a bit,” she said.

Transformative impact on participants

The camp, which concludes with a skills showcase for parents, has been praised for its positive impact on participants.

“A lot of the girls are very timid and unsure when they arrive at camp, but at the end of day two, you see totally different girls,” Enslin observed.

“They are more empowered and you can see that they have a much stronger sense of self.”

Enslin also spoke about the camp’s history and the strides made in the industry, noting that while progress has been made, much work remains.

Open to all, with a focus on female empowerment

Although the camp is designed for girls, boys are not excluded. Enslin encourages a good attitude and a willingness to learn.

Interested parties can find more information and register for the HERo Girls Fire Camp at Golden State Women in Fire Service’s website.

FSJA Comment

The HERo Girls Fire Camp, hosted by Golden State Women in Fire Service, represents a notable effort in addressing the gender disparity within the fire service industry.

By providing hands-on training and mentorship from professional female firefighters, the camp not only equips young women with valuable skills but also challenges long-standing gender norms.

The initiative is reflective of a broader movement towards greater diversity and inclusion in various professional fields.

As more young women are exposed to roles traditionally dominated by men, the potential for a more balanced and diverse workforce grows.

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