The Recruitment Unit’s first ever Girls Fire Camp “went outstanding,” according to Recruitment Unit leader Fire Captain Brent Burton.
Forty-two girls ages 14 – 19 participated in the event, which was led by 12 of the Department’s female firefighters, including Battalion Chief Veronie Steele-Small and Fire Captain Jasmine Segura, on Saturday, Sept. 12. Five female fire explorers also assisted throughout the day.
The day began with remarks from Chief Deputy Dawnna Lawrence, Steele-Small, Recruitment Unit leader Fire Captain Brent Burton, the explorers and more. Then, the firefighters led the girls in a short workout and a cadence run. Attendees also watched training videos about becoming a firefighter.
Participants also learned about the different fire apparatus, and they even had a chance to take a tour of Command and Control and try on turnouts.
Members of the Los Angeles City Fire Department even showed up for a few hours to observe with the intention of creating their own fire camp.
The camp concluded with remarks from Fire Chief Daryl Osby, who told all the girls to “dream big”; the presentation of certificates; and a group photo.
“The young ladies were thrilled that we did it,” Burton said. “They all want to come back and do it again. Many of them liked the Dispatch (tour) … and they really liked the interaction they had with the women firefighters.”
The enthusiasm was apparent throughout the day as the girls asked firefighters about their schedule, their favorite parts of the job and more. They also received information on how to join the Department’s fire explorer program.
According to Burton, the idea for a Girls Fire Camp stemmed from a 2011 report from the Los Angeles County Department of Human Resources. The report gave the Fire Department several recommendations on how it could recruit more women.
Fire Fighter Specialist Kelly Abadie, who previously led the Recruitment Unit, began the research on the project, Burton said.
“We just picked it up as one of the projects and kept it going and made it happen,” Burton said. “It was just something that … needed to be done to improve the exposure of young girls to the fire service.”
It took about two months for Burton, career development intern Gwen White and the others to organize the camp. Preparations included designing commemorative T-shirts for attendees and writing a cadence call for the morning run.
One thing is certain: “We will do (the camp) again,” Burton said, adding that a wrap-up meeting will be held in a few weeks. “From there, we’ll work on planning and scheduling the next one.”
Photo gallery at top: Girls Fire Camp. Photos by Nicole Mooradian.