CalFire summer camp encourages young women to become future firefighters

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CalFire SLO just completed its annual camp for young women, ages 14-18, to learn and practice firefighting skills in SLO County. It’s called Camp Cinder and their goal is to promote diversity and inclusion within the firefighting community.

This is a five-day firefighting training experience for young women held in Redding and San Luis Obispo. One of the activities of the SLO group this year was training in the water off the beach of the Old Port.

“Today, they do surf rescue. So they’re going to be in the back of a jet ski on a rescue board to see what it’s like to save people from the water,” said Savanna Birchfield, Cal Fire’s public information officer. .

Camp Cinder participants prepare to practice surf rescue.

She said that this year, three squads are participating in Camp Cinder, and CalFire has set up the camp so that each squad can alternate between different fire training sessions each day.

“Cal Fire is an all-hazards service. So we don’t just respond to forest fires or structural fires. We sometimes respond to water rescue, so we give that experience to the girls,” Birchfield said.

She said it all started in 2014 with one of the SLO fire captains. Once the camp gained popularity, CalFire took it over and began officially promoting and providing services to attendees.

“We meet a lot of really cool girls. A lot of them are really passionate about it and we just want to help them succeed,” Birchfield said.

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Savannah Birchfield, CalFire

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Camp Cinder participant Bella Tanguay completes CPR training with CalFire

CalFire is attracting interest from young women across California. Birchfield said this year, attendees from Riverside, San Diego and even Santa Clarita are coming to learn and grow for their own reasons.

“A few years ago, three fires broke out all around my house. I remember having a nervous breakdown every day because I wanted to be there to help. I kept thinking to myself, I’m sitting here while they’re over there working hard. I just wanted to get involved and I wanted to help,” said camp participant Julia Stenvick.

Another camp participant, Savannah Wulf-Vaughan, a Grade 10 student, said she was there to normalize women taking on responsibilities traditionally assigned to men.

“Having women do it is just a big accomplishment for everyone. It shows young women and other generations that we can do anything we can do,” Wulf-Vaughn said.

This year, all participants graduated and received their certification in CPR. CalFire plans to host Camp Cinder each summer for free to all attendees.

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