Camp pushes teenage girls towards fire service

Arlington County Fire Department is hosting a camp for teenage girls to try and get them interested in firefighting.

ARLINGTON, VA (WUSA9) - When you think of a firefighter, what do you see? Is it a man or a woman? Perhaps unsurprisingly, the statistics show that the vast majority are men, with just five percent being female firefighters. That's why a new summer camp in our area is looking to motivate teenage girls to sign up. 

For the third time in four years, The Arlington County Fire Company, hosted "Camp Heat," a four-day overnight summer camp for teenage girls. 

"It's kind of renewed my faith in the younger generation," said Captain Sarah Marchegiani, one of the co-founders of the camp. 

Marchegiani said that the camp is all about breaking down the stigma that firefighting is for men. 

"I can understand it," she said.

"Growing up, I never considered a career in firefighting. It wasn't something introduced to females. A lot of young boys - you know let's go look at the fire truck. Play with trucks. While we were playing with dolls. I think now times are changing."

The camp includes various lessons, including some relatively grueling drills. When WUSA9 caught up with the girls, they were doing an obstacle course of sorts, which included running, and the carrying of heavy fire equipment. 

"It was sweaty," laughed Caroline Sinclair Thompson.

"And it was hard. But it was worth it."

Sophia Mayer was another teen training at the camp. Her father is a firefighter as well, so she knows that the service is all about community.

"Putting out fires is just a part of it," she said.

"Just a small part of it... It makes me happy to see how quickly we came together and how well we work as one." 

So back to that stigma - is firefighting just for men? Nurunnahar Begum has a definitive answer. 

"Not anymore," she said.

"It's 2017."

© 2017 WUSA-TV


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