Dozens participate in ‘Girls-only Fire Camp’ in Parkrose

SEE INCLUDED ACTION VIDEO | See young women gaining first-hand knowledge about a firefighting career at this unique camp in outer East Portland …

These participants at the 2022 Portland Metro Fire Camp move from one training station to another.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

On the second weekend in July, Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) Training Station 2, in the Parkrose neighborhood, was teeming with young women, at the Portland Metro Fire Camp.

These girls were experiencing – hands-on – what being a career firefighter entails. The 38 participants in this camp session were divided into “Training Battalions”, each led by an experienced female firefighter.

The participants were required to don firefighting suits called “turnouts”, and helmets, all of which were donated by area fire departments.  Between trainings, many of the young women temporarily doffed the heavy gear to cool off on these hot sunny days.

-2 Campers learn how to take a car apart to gain access to accident victims needing rescue inside.

Their curriculum included:

Search and rescue – crawling inside a blacked-out training building to “rescue” a victim and a downed firefighter.

Power Rescue Tool operation – using the Holmatro Rescue Equipment that firefighters use to quickly tear off smashed vehicles’ doors and roofs to extract victims.

Climbing the aerial ladder – that’s on a PF&R training Ladder Truck, with its ladder fully extended, giving these campers a unique view of Parkrose from the top.

Fire hose operation – learning how to control the force of a powerful stream of water — not allowing the nozzle control the firefighter holding it.

Forcing doors – using pry bars and wedges to pop open jammed doors.

Emergency rappelling techniques – escaping from a second-story window using a rope system.

Chain saw operation – experiencing what its like to use a chain saw to cut holes in a simulated roof — which, in real life, is called “providing vertical ventilation” – allowing combustible gasses to escape.

See these campers learn what it’s like to be a firefighter:

“We’re here this weekend to empower these girls in all aspects of competence, courage, skills and capabilities,” said PF&R firefighter, Board Member of Metro Fire Camp for Girls, and firefighting instructor Christina Dizon.

“We want them to know that they’ll have a whole range of options when it comes to their career choices – even in male-dominated fields, such as firefighting,” Dizon told East Portland News.

Learning the basic firefighting skill of “putting the wet stuff on the red stuff” is part of this hose and nozzle handling drill. In this case the “red stuff” isn’t fire; it’s traffic safety cones.

“Since 2015, more than 30% of the women hired by PF&R – who have stayed with the Bureau – joined us as a result of attending a camp like this,” Dizon pointed out.

“We are grateful for the support of the Portland Fire Fighters’ Association, member of International Association of Fire Fighters Local 43,” acknowledged Dizon.

It looks like a smile of success on the face of this participant, after she reaches the very top of the fully extended aerial ladder.

For more information on the Portland Metro Fire Camp, including the requirements and how to sign up for 2023, see their official website: CLICK HERE.

© 2022 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™


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