A day camp aims to get girls interested in firefighting. | St. Augustine Fire Department.A day camp aims to get girls interested in firefighting. | St. Augustine Fire Department.
A day camp aims to get girls interested in firefighting. | St. Augustine Fire Department.

Girls can be firefighters too; new day camps show the way

Published on April 11, 2024 at 3:11 pm

A new summer program in St. Augustine looks to light up girls’ passions for firefighting.

Registration is Saturday for the St. Augustine Fire Department’s two Spark the Flame day camps this summer. The one-day events, open to middle school girls, are designed to get young women interested in firefighting by teaching them what firefighters do, how to work together and, of course, how to operate a firehose. 

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St. Augustine Fire Chief Carlos Aviles and firefighter Hannah Riederich developed the camps specifically for young women who may be interested in firefighting. When Riederich was growing up, she wanted to be a paramedic, and it wasn’t until she met a female fire lieutenant that she even knew women could be firefighters. 

If she had known firefighting was an option for her, she told Jacksonville Today, she probably would have become a firefighter a lot sooner. 

“Growing up as a kid I never knew this was a career option for me,” Riederich said. “The diversity in the fire services is getting better, but it’s not where it should be.”

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The Spark the Flame summer camps will take place May 31 and June 1. | St. Augustine Fire Department.

According to Women in Fire, a nonprofit organization that works to promote diversity in the fire service, 2020 data indicates that only 9% of all firefighters in the United States are women. Riederich wants to see that change.

The day camps will feature activities that give young women a taste of what it’s like to be a firefighter so they can understand that knowing about proper ventilation and how to work as a team is just as important as knowing how to rappel down a building. 

The fire department will host a registration event at 8 a.m. Saturday at the St. Augustine Fire Department’s main station, 101 Malaga St. There are no costs associated with the camps, which are May 31 and June 1, but registration is on a first-come, first-served basis. Each camp will have space for just 20 participants.

To speed up the registration process, the fire department encourages interested parents or guardians to fill out the registration documentation ahead of Saturday. Click here to access the documents on the city’s website.

author image Reporter email Noah Hertz is a Jacksonville Today reporter focusing on St. Johns County. From Central Florida, Noah got his start as an intern at WFSU, Tallahassee’s public radio station, and as a reporter at The Wakulla News. He went on to work for three years as a general assignment reporter and editor for The West Volusia Beacon in his hometown, DeLand.

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