Going up on a ladder truck, putting patients on a spineboard, and of course, fighting fires – all parts of firefighting that girls could experience hands-on through the Plainfield Fire Protection District’s Girls Firefighter Summer Camp.
The camp is meant to get girls interested in fire service careers – a field often thought of as a man’s world.
“Women are very underrepresented in this vocation and there’s no good reason for that,” said Plainfield Fire Chief David Riddle. “My exposure to the women in this organization and women like that in other organizations that surround us is that they’re very capable, equally capable, and excel in spots notwithstanding gender.”
One firefighter working with the girls is Jenae Williamson. In 2015 she became the first full time firefighter/paramedic with the Plainfield Fire Proteciton District.
“I wish that when I was younger I had been more exposed to the fire service and had more opportunities like this to really get hands on and get more excited about it,” said Williamson. “Maybe I would have gotten into it sooner in my life.”
Becoming a firefighter like Williamson is a dream held by some of the girls in the camp.
“My dad was a firefighter before he was a paramedic and I want to follow in his footsteps,” said 12-year-old Addison Prokop.
“I’ve always liked seeing people help other people and it always made me happy so I want to do it,” said 12-year-old Taryn Truppa.
“And if we got one, maybe two girls out of this that had even more interest coming in, that to me is icing on the cake,” said Riddle. “And it looks like we’ve got a much higher percentage than that that are very interested in this.”
The camp is giving these girls a clear idea of what the job entails – stuff like spraying a fire hose, learning first aid, seeing the department’s trucks and getting a tour of the fire house.
But maybe most importantly, the camp is telling girls that this is a job they can do.
For young people looking to learn even more about the fire service, both the Plainfield and Naperville fire departments offer an explorers program.
Naperville News 17’s Blane Erwin reports.
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