Female firefighters from across Oregon and Washington came together in Sherwood, Oregon, this weekend to deliver a message to young women: Yes, you could have a career as a firefighter.
Portland Metro Fire Camp provides the opportunity for girls and young women ages 16-22 to get hands-on experience and explore possible careers in fire service. The three-day camp is hosted by Portland Fire & Rescue and Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue, and staffed by 30 professional female firefighters.
Firefighter Emily Van Meter says she wishes she could have attended this type of camp when she was younger. She did not begin her fire service career until she was in her thirties, never realizing that the field was an option for women.
“I probably would’ve done a much different, you know, career path or life choices at that point, had I known that this was even an option when I was younger” says Van Meter. “So giving [the campers] that opportunity is huge and it’s great for them.”
Women at the camp learn rope skills, controlling nozzles, emergency medical skills and more, all in a supportive and encouraging environment aimed at instilling confidence and building teamwork skills.
“Our goal with Portland Metro fire camp is that the girls take away that they can do anything that they put their mind to,” Van Meter says, “and that there truly are no barriers physically and mentally for them.”
The camp concludes Sunday. This year, 48 campers were expected to attend.