SDFD Girl's Empowerment Camp Starts Amid Discrimination Controversy

The camp is free and open to both girls and boys aged 14-18

After briefly being canceled in February, San Diego Fire-Rescue’s (SDFD) Girl’s Empowerment Camp got underway at the SDFD training Center near Liberty Station Saturday.

More than 100 teenagers between 14 and 18 showed up at the camp to learn hands-on training with firefighting tools and equipment, including chainsaws, axes and ropes, an overview of fire service career options and CPR/AED training.

The camp ran into some controversy at the beginning of the year when the father of a boy who wanted to attend the camp complained to the city that it was a “girls only” event that deterred boys from taking part.

The fire department says everyone is welcome at the camp, and the only restriction is age: 14-18.

Sixty-nine girls and one boy were registered for the event Saturday.

San Diego Fire-Rescue was founded in 1889, but women have only been part of the organization for the last four decades. There is still a large gender gap; less than five percent of firefighters in San Diego are women. 

“I’m feeling excited,” said Saramia Hayes, one of the girls registered for the camp. “I’m a little nervous to climb the ladder.

“I’m actually really excited to learn CPR and get certified, and I’m just excited to make new friends,” Hayes added.

Another free camp will be held on May 19-20.

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