Dozens of girls experienced what it was like to become a firefighter as they participated in Fire Department Girls Camp.
16-year-old Aamiyah Beridon is spending her weekend learning how to be a firefighter. She tells us, “I like helping people. I don’t like seeing other people hurt or down. I like everybody happy, equal.”
Beridon is one of 92 girls ages 14 to 18 participating in the LAFD Girls Camp, a two-day crash course on the career of a firefighter.
“I just want to get the experience; climbing on top of the buildings, going to fires, helping people, saving peoples lives…”
The campers have taken over the LAFD Academy in Panorama City, California, wearing fire gear and learning actual firefighting tools. LAFD Chief Ralph Terrazas and Councilwoman Nury Martinez were on hand Saturday morning to kick things off. Then, the girls began their training under the direction of female firefighters like Samantha Ralston.
Ralston says, “Let them hold chainsaws, climb ladders, just get a feel for the equipment. Encourage them to try something new and get out of their comfort zone and have fun with their friends.”
Kristina Kepner, LAFD Battalion Chief, says, “What we hope is to empower them, let them know that they can do whatever they want. They can be anything they want to be. Our motto is, ‘if you can see it, you can be it.'”
The Fire Department is traditionally a male-dominated field, but thanks to recruitment efforts like the camp, the goal is to make the LAFD more representative of the community it serves.
Kepner says, “The more diverse a department we have, the better we can serve the various communities we have in Los Angeles to be able to empathaze and be compassionate with those communities really helps us in how we serve the public.”
The LAFD Holds two girls camps a year, one in the spring and one in the fall. The next one will take place in the San Pedro Area.