PORTLAND, Ore. -- Dozens of young women became firefighters for a weekend, thanks to a special camp hosted by Portland Fire and Rescue.
The Portland Metro Fire Camp is in its ninth year. This weekend, 43 young women, ages 16-20, participated in hands-on training to experience what it would be like to become a firefighter.
Part of the training involves cutting open a car, rescuing a fallen firefighter, and climbing 80 to 100 feet on a ladder. The camp offers valuable life skills that the women can use in their day to day lives.
“What we use with our firefighting skills, we teach these girls to lean in and be courageous. And to try tasks that they may be fearful of,” said Portland Fire and Rescue firefighter Irene Concepcion-Sestric. “That's kind of the crux of the fire service, building that teamwork and camaraderie, it’s hard to have that type of teamwork in some other occupations.”
Claire Rutgers is 19 years old. For her, this is a dream come true.
“These past couple of days have been amazing. It's a lot of teamwork, communications skills, leadership,” Rutgers said. “Everything we do is based off of each other.”
Counselors at the camp are also female firefighters and they come from all over; north of Seattle, the Portland-metro area and Los Angeles.
“It’s an attribute to what you really can do, if you work hard. You can make anything happen if you really work for it. And these women are an example of it,” said Rutgers. “It’s amazing to be around.”
As for the climb to the top of the ladder?
“It’s worth it for sure. The view at the top is amazing," Rutgers said.
The camp is from Friday to Sunday. About 100 young women apply and 45-50 are accepted. Part of the application process is based on an essay.