The City of St. Augustine Fire Department recently held its first free empowerment firefighting camp for girls. The camp’s goal was to provide young girls with an understanding of the fire service, promote discussions about women’s roles in firefighting, foster confidence and teamwork skills, and inspire and empower participants.

Camp counselors and team leaders were local, regional and statewide volunteer female firefighters. Campers had the opportunity to participate in physical challenges that were specifically designed to simulate real-life firefighting scenarios. These included learning how to handle and control a fire hose, operate a nozzle to control water flow, participate in search and rescue exercises, and perform climbing and rappelling techniques. They also learned about essential firefighting skills, such as ventilation and forcible entry, and they practiced these skills.

The camp also offered physical training, which is an essential component of the firefighting profession. This training helps them build strength and endurance, which are critical for performing the physically demanding tasks of firefighting.

“Spark the Flame is committed to nurturing the self-confidence of the young girls who attend the camp,” Fire Chief Carlos Aviles said.  “Our aim is to provide an environment that empowers them to realize their full potential and encourages them to be the best version of themselves, both during their time at camp and beyond.”

Hannah Riederich, a firefighter with the Fire Department and one of the event organizers, said, “We believe that by inspiring and setting positive examples for young girls, we can help shape the trajectory of their lives in a positive direction.”

Spark the Flame camp was held over two days. Registration was limited to 20 campers each day. The Fire Department coordinated with local partners to ensure that all girls, regardless of their socio-economic background, had access.