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Calif. fire camp introduces young women to fire service careers

The HERo Girls Fire Camp empowers young women through hands-on experiences


Golden State Women in the Fire Service/Facebook

By Lynzie Lowe
The Reporter

FAIRFIELD, Calif. — Golden State Women in Fire Service, with an eye on empowering young women to know they can succeed in careers historically dominated by men, is set to host a HERo Girls Fire Camp in Fairfield in April.

“Our program is designed to empower young women — for this camp, high school-aged girls — through firefighting skills,” said Erika Enslin, Founder and President of the non-profit organization, and newly retired Captain of the Sacramento Fire Department. “Our camps are led by all professional women firefighters from around the region to show the girls women can and are doing the job. Girls often still get told they can’t do hard things and we are here to show them they can.”

According to the National Fire Protection Association, women make up only about 4 percent of career firefighters in the United States. Additionally, a survey by the International Association of Women in Fire & Emergency Services (iWomen), reported that only about 2 percent of fire chiefs in the United States are women.

With this in mind, Enslin said she and her team of fellow female firefighters facilitate the camp with the motto, “if you can see it, you can be it.” They not only want to make these young girls aware that there are women out there doing these jobs, and doing them well, but also that they too can do jobs like firefighting, and other male-dominated jobs if they set their minds to it.

“We aim to bring together women in the fire service to network, mentor and empower young women,” said Enslin. “Through our camps we hope to inspire and improve the diversity and gender equity of the fire service and to empower young women as they move forward in life.”

The HERo Girls Fire Camp, scheduled for April 13-14 at Station 38 in Fairfield, will include several hands-on firefighter trainings, including using chainsaws, hose handling, auto extraction, search and rescue, breaching and breaking, climbing ladders including the 105-foot aerial ladder on top of the fire truck, CPR and stop the bleed training.

Enslin said the participating girls will also be run through blackout drills during search and rescue simulations should they wish to attempt it. According to Enslin, simulations like this help to not only boost the girls’ self-confidence but also helps relieve fears like claustrophobia.

“We only ever have them do what they feel comfortable with, but we definitely want to push them to get out of their comfort zones a bit,” said Enslin.

After working through the multiple training drills during the two-day camp, Enslin said they see so much growth in each and every one of the girls that attends the HERo Girls Fire Camp.

“A lot of the girls are very timid and unsure when they arrive at camp, but at the end of day two, you see totally different girls,” said Enslin. “They are more empowered and you can see that they have a much stronger sense of self.”

At the end of day two, Enslin said the camp concludes with a skills showcase where all of the parents can come and watch what the girls have learned.

“The parents are always in disbelief at what the girls have learned,” said Enslin. “They are always amazed at what these girls can do. I always hear, ‘Wow, my daughter can do that!’”

According to Enslin, the organization was incorporated in 2021 after herself and fellow professional women firefighters that were dedicated to providing support, education, and mentorship saw the need for inspiring growth, instilling confidence, and fostering leadership qualities in fellow women.

“While we have made some strides in the industry, there is still a long way to go,” said Enslin.

At this time, Enslin said there has already been a lot of interest in the upcoming camp, with 46 girls already signed up, but applications will continue to be accepted until they reach the 60-max capacity.

“Just bring a good attitude, a willingness to learn, and be ready to push yourself,” said Enslin. According to Enslin, each participant will receive a light breakfast and lunch each day as well as a camp T-shirt.

While this is a camp designed for girls, boys are not turned away, said Enslin.

For more information or to register for the HERo Girls Fire Camp, visit

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