Girls attend 15th annual ‘Fire Camp’ in Parkrose

INCLUDES REAL VIDEO | See a bit of what goes on at this unique summer camp held in outer East Portland, hosted again at Portland Fire & Rescue Training Station No. 2 …

As the 15th Annual Portland Metro Fire Camp begins its first day, participants engage in warm-up drills before their first exercises.

Story and Photos by David F. Ashton

On the long weekend of July 14-16, Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) Training Station No. 2 hosted 47 female participants from Oregon and Washington between the ages of 16 and 22 at the 15th Annual Portland Metro Fire Camp (PMFC).

These campers were selected through an application process that included writing a letter of interest, remarked PF&R Interim Chief Ryan Gillespie on the opening day of the camp.

He’s excited to see the camp underway once again, says PF&R Interim Chief Ryan Gillespie.

“This is exciting; and we’re super happy to hold this camp again this year,” Gillespie told East Portland News, as we walked with him on the tarmac training field.

“One of the things that’s really great is that the camp is driven by a highly dedicated group of women firefighters,” Gillespie commented. “They’ve lived the lack of diversity in the fire department; as firefighting has traditionally been a male-dominated field.

Campers learn how to use leverage to rescue a downed firefighter, dragging the victim to safety.

Using these custom-made door frames at the Forcible Entry Station, participants learn how to break into a locked door.

“For these young women to get exposure to this as a profession, and see what the job is really like, can help them decide to become firefighters,” Gillespie said.

“If they don’t go on to become firefighters, that’s okay,” he added. “What they’re experiencing and learning this weekend will benefit them, no matter what career path they follow.”

PF&R’s Lt. Irene Concepcion-Sestric outlines some of the activities that campers will be engaged in during the weekend’s program.

In East Portland News’ time at the camp, we weren’t able to see all of the training drills in which the campers participated – while dressed in full “turnout” firefighting suits and helmets.

Watch these campers learn firefighting skills at this weekend-long event:

Those activities included:

  • Interview skills
  • Search & Rescue
  • Hose Handling
  • Chainsaw Operation
  • Forcible Entry
  • Aerial Ladder Climbing
  • Knot Tying
  • Vehicle Extrication


The PFMC was staffed by 55 female camp counselors – primarily professional firefighters from Oregon, Washington, and California.

As the temperature reaches 90°, campers take a brief water break in the shade.

PF&R asked that we thank these contributors to the camp who helped make it possible:

Northwest Safety Clean ~ Parr Lumber
Loop Hi-Way Towing ~ Bullard Fire Helmets IAFF Local 43
IAFF Local 314 ~ IAFF Local 452 ~ IAFF Local 1159
IAFF Local 1660 ~ Fire Restoration
Portland Fire Chiefs Association

Participants of the 15th Annual Portland Metro Fire Camp gather for a group photo.

© 2023 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™


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