The Botetourt County Fire & EMS Girls Fire Camp has been recognized with an Achievement Award from the National Association of Counties (NACo). The awards honor innovative, effective county government programs that strengthen services for residents.
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 honor of the 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
“We are very proud that our fire & EMS department are being recognized at the national level for this innovative opportunity for young women in our community,” says Botetourt County Board of Supervisors Chair Dr. Mac Scothorn. “Girls Fire Camp has also been recognized by the Virginia Association of Counties and the Public Relations Society of America. We are thrilled that our Fire & EMS personnel are being honored for a job well done.”
Each year, NACo’s Achievement Awards are given in 18 categories that reflect the vast, comprehensive services counties provide. The categories include children and youth, criminal justice and public safety, county administration, information technology, health, civic engagement and more. Launched in 1970, the program is designed to recognize innovation in county government. Each nominated program is judged on its own merits and not against other applications.
“The Achievement Awards demonstrate excellence in county government and the commitment to serve our residents every day,” said NACo President Denise Winfrey. “This year’s winners represent some of the most innovative and collaborative efforts we have seen in over 50 years of presenting these awards.”
Girls Fire Camp will be returning to Botetourt County in June 2023. Registrations for this camp sold out in one day! For more information about Girls Fire Camp, visit www.botetourtva.gov/fireems See the promo video here. Check out this link for a video recap! For more information about NACo’s Achievement Awards, click here.