San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer reinstated a firefighting empowerment camp for girls Tuesday that was abruptly canceled after a discrimination complaint to the city.
“We made a commitment to hundreds of kids and their families and we are going to stand by that,” Faulconer said in a statement.
City officials announced that both girls and boys are invited to participate. But the camp pays attention to empowering girls because women are vastly underrepresented in the field of firefighting.
The Girls Empowerment Camp, initially set for March 3-4, was discontinued after a father complained that boys were not allowed to attend based solely on their gender. At the time, a San Diego Fire-Rescue spokesperson said no male was denied entry to the event.
Since then, Faulconer has directed city staff to resume the event, which will now take place on two weekends: April 14-15 and May 19-20. Registration has reopened so more teenagers can attend.
“This is an important camp that teaches kids what it’s like to be a firefighter and exposes many of them to a career opportunity they may not have considered previously," Faulconer said. "The camp is open to everyone and encourages girls to consider a profession that needs more female representation.”
More than a 100 participants had signed up for the event, along with 40 on a waitlist, before the event was suddenly dropped.
Across the United States, only 7 percent of firefighters are women, according to city officials citing a 2016 National Fire Protection Association study.
“Our firefighters, staff and volunteers put their hearts and souls into this event,” Fire Chief Brian Fennessy said in a statement. “We are committed to moving forward with this excellent opportunity for young people.”
Camp participants will get to see a realistic, hands-on overview of firefighting. They will be exposed to all types of public safety career options. City officials said the program seeks to empower campers to pursue their dreams.
“We applaud the decision of Mayor Faulconer to move forward with this camp and look forward to having even more young people educated and mentored on careers in public safety,” said Wendy Robinson, Executive Director of the SDFD Foundation, in a statement.
Aspiring campers can sign up at SDFD's website.