On Thursday, February 16, 2023, Botetourt Fire & EMS was presented with a Silver Summit Award from the Public Relations Society of America for the 1st Annual Girls Fire Camp.
It’s a common fact that fire and EMS is a male-dominated field. Only 4% of career firefighters and 11% of volunteer firefighters are women. Botetourt Fire & EMS is working on changing this stigma, one girl at a time and they made huge strides by hosting the inaugural Girls’ Fire Camp on June 18, 2022. This event was inspired by career and volunteer female firefighters in the department’s workforce. Planning for the event began in May of 2021. During the months of planning and revising the program, personnel were also successful in securing a grant totaling $5,000 from the International Association of Fire Chiefs Volunteer Workforce Solutions Grant program to offset costs and make the camp a reality.
The fire service has an ever-growing need for a diverse workforce and this camp showed girls that this job isn’t just for guys! The one-day camp was offered for rising 1st-12th graders and was established to inspire girls of all ages to see possible career opportunities in Fire & EMS. Through multiple age-appropriate modules, girls were able to learn what fire and EMS is all about. This camp was also dedicated in the honor of late Fire & EMS Captain, Helen “Gracey” Humbert, who served within the department for over a decade. Gracey passed away in April of 2022 after battling breast cancer. She was the essence of what a female can be in the fire service and her story and legacy were shared as part of the camp. Registration was limited to 50 girls, and it sold out in 1 DAY! Campers were able to:
- Use a hose to “put out a fire” and “save” a victim
- Climb over an obstacle course
- CPR and basic First Aid
- Participate in a Dummy Drag Relay
- Learn about Fire Science
- Vehicle Extrication
By the end of the camp, fire & EMS personnel expressed how full their hearts were to see so many girls excited about the fire service. Many of the girls had shared that they didn’t know Fire & EMS were an option for women but now they do! The camp was also recognized locally and nationally by local media. See the promo video here. Check out this link for a video recap!