CVTC camp aims to get girls more involved in firefighting

August 6, 2013

From wqow.com: “CVTC camp aims to get girls more involved in firefighting” — By Aarik Woods – Girls are getting an inside look at a profession that is typically dominated by men. This week Chippewa Valley Technical College is hosting its first ever “Girls on Fire” camp. It’s a way to expose girls to the work required of firefighters and emergency medical service workers.

“Girls my age, they don’t think that they ever could be a firefighter,” said Redgy Bleskacek of Bloomer.

Sometimes, it takes a leap of faith to try new things. But that’s the idea behind the girls on fire camp; expose girls to something they may otherwise never try.

“When you think of firefighter, you think of male, so you think of a guy doing it. But now that I came to this camp, I feel like I can do it too,” explained Bleskacek.

CVTC says that women make up only four percent of firefighters nationwide. Local firefighters say the job can be demanding, which is why girls from 7th grade through high school are taking on ropes courses as part of the camp.

“You have to be strong. You’re going into places where nobody wants to go and you need to be able to get people out when they’re screaming your name. And a lot of women I guess probably don’t want to do that,” said Katie Hakes, Chippewa Fire District Firefighter.

But the job is more than just fighting fires, which is why the girls are also getting a first hand look at what else they could encounter.

“These girls need to realize that 80% of calls to the fire service are for EMS, so because of that they have to be trained. But we don’t really want to train them here, we just want to expose them and make them realize that EMS is a big piece of this, a very, very important part of it,” said Marcy Bruflat, CVTC Fire Training Program Director.

“It was a lot of hands on experience, and it’ll be a good learning experience because I think going in to EMS or firefighting would be a lot of fun,” said Madison Gilmartin.

Hakes added, “I don’t think it really matters whether you’re a man or a woman, but there’s definitely a necessity for us, because if your daughter or somebody was drowning, wouldn’t you want someone there right away?”

To give you an idea of the field locally, the Chippewa Fire District has 110 firefighters, and of that number, four are women. There are also several other women that are volunteers. Eau Claire has 92 firefighters, and just two are women. And in Chippewa Falls, the fire department is made of up 25 members, all of them men.

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