This June, girls who are interested in firefighting were able to explore their passion through Goodyear Fire Department’s Camp F.I.R.E.S. (Females in Responding Emergency Services), an annual program that has grown every year since its debut.
Young women who are between the ages of 14 and 18 are able to participate in Camp F.I.R.E.S.
Lora Davis, the Goodyear Fire engineer and paramedic who spearheads this program every year, said the program is geared to give girls a glimpse of the firefighting world.
“We take them through an academy type of experience to get an opportunity to learn what it’s like to be a firefighter,” Davis said. “They get the opportunity to work in a team, and we do a lot of confidence-building activities and team-building activities.”
The activities in which the girls participate showcase what firefighters do on a regular basis and give the girls a hands-on experience.
“One of the things we do at the end of the camp is the ladder climb,” Davis said. “They climb up a 100-foot ladder. It’s our ladder that’s attached to our ladder truck. They get an opportunity to climb all the way up to the top and overcome that fear. We also do a search-and-rescue drill where they are searching for a down firefighter.”
But seeing as firefighters don’t fight fires most of the time, the girls were able to learn the other side of the job as well, and even listen to guest speakers.
“They also learn the medical side of what we do, and they got the opportunity to become CPR certified,” Davis said.
The program originated from an idea Fire Chief Paul Luizzi had, according to Davis. Thanks to this idea, Davis has been able to run the program and has had tremendous success.
“The biggest thing that has made this program so successful is the amount of support we have for the program throughout our entire department,” Davis said. “We have just a lot of support from the crews that are on shift; from our charities who basically help us make this camp even happen; our cadet program helps out; and then just a lot of firefighters, engineers and captains that want to be involved and help be a part of the camp.”
Davis attributes a lot of success to the women in the fire department as well.
“We have our female firefighters that are a really big part of (the camp) and get pretty excited to be a part of it and help with it — they are the ones who really make it successful, and it’s just grown every year because of them.”
Compared to last year’s 8 a.m. to noon camp, this year’s camp included an extra-long day session from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. so the girls would be able to learn more about firefighting. Davis hopes the future of this program will continue to expand.
“We just keep thinking of more things that we want to do with them and show them and have them experience,” she said.
And Davis believes this program is important as a new generation of girls enters the firefighting world. She ultimately wishes she had such an opportunity growing up.
“When I was in high school, I didn’t have an opportunity like this, and I think it’s neat for them to see there’s a lot of options out there that maybe they’ve never even thought of,” Davis said. “A big thing is for them to just get a little bit out of their comfort zone and push themselves and get them to see that they can do a lot more than they ever thought they could.”
She continued, “One of the things we do is we kind of force them to stand up and speak in front of everyone. That’s always something I had been a little apprehensive about. We push them out of their comfort zone.”
Davis ultimately has one message for all future firefighters.
“(Firefighting) is something you can do if you put your mind to it,” Davis said. “Don’t hesitate because you think ‘maybe I can’t.’ The biggest thing is to push yourself, and if it’s something you want, be driven to accomplish that goal.”