Academy in November geared to women interested in fire service careers

Camp F.I.R.E.S., or Females in Rescue Emergency Services, is for females 16 and older who are interested in fire service or emergency medical careers. A three-day academy will be offered in November by Superstition Fire and Medical District. (Courtesy SFMD)

Camp F.I.R.E.S., or Females in Rescue Emergency Services, is for females 16 and older who are interested in fire service or emergency medical careers. A three-day academy will be offered in November by Superstition Fire and Medical District. (Courtesy SFMD)

 

Superstition Fire and Medical District is inviting females 16 and older who may have an interest in fire service or emergency medical careers to participate in a three-day academy to be held on Saturday, Nov. 7; Sunday, Nov. 8, and Saturday, Nov. 14.
The program will run from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day at the SFMD Regional Training Academy, 3700 E. 16th Ave. in Apache Junction.

Camp F.I.R.E.S. (Females In Rescue Emergency Services) is an exciting, new program geared specifically to expose girls and women to leadership and problem solving skills, basic firefighting skills, emergency medical skills and CPR. Amy Brooks, the program’s coordinator and a captain/paramedic with SFMD, is optimistic about this new program.

“We are excited about this opportunity for girls and women in our community to be exposed to fire and emergency medical services and to SFMD,” she said. “Women shouldn’t be discouraged or think they can’t do very well as a firefighter. As the nature of what we do and how we do it has evolved, the need for more female firefighters is evident.”

SFMD Fire Chief Paul Bourgeois points out fire and emergency services in general attract a special kind of person, “Firefighting isn’t for everyone. If you are afraid of heights or confined spaces or don’t function well in a critical situation, and you’re not an adrenaline junkie, you most likely won’t be attracted to this job. Historically, this was a male dominated world, but not anymore. Firefighting is an exciting, ever-challenging, highly rewarding occupation for women and men,” Chief Bourgeois said.

According to the International Association of Women in Fire and Emergency Services, the first female career firefighter was hired in 1974. Today, some 11,000 women in the U.S. work as career firefighters and officers with approximately 40,000 in the volunteer, paid-on-call, part-time and seasonal sectors.

Women serve as chiefs of career and combination fire departments in every region of the U.S., along with the many dozens more who are chiefs of volunteer departments. Locally, the Phoenix Fire Department, one of the top 10 largest fire departments in the nation, recently hired Kara Kalkbrenner as its fire chief. There are six other large metropolitan fire departments also with female fire chiefs. SFMD also employs two additional female firefighters besides Capt. Brooks.

Capt. Brooks noted there is a need to start younger in getting female firefighters ready for the job.

“The testing process can be rigorous physically and mentally, and there is no exceptions given for gender. Upper body strength has long been a setback for females, but with more women engaged in competitive athletics in high school and college, along with more aggressive workout disciplines that females are using to stay fit and healthy, this disparity is disappearing,” Capt. Brooks said.

SFMD hopes that this new and exciting opportunity will help bridge a gap to allow more understanding about fire and emergency services careers available to women.

Registration is available online.

For more information, call our offices at 480-982-4440.

Editor’s note: Dave Montgomery is the spokesman and assistant fire chief for Superstition Fire and Medical District.

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