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The Arlington County Fire Department will hold its second free firefighting summer camp this weekend to immerse girls in the demands of fire service.
From Friday to Sunday, 24 campers will stay at Marymount University with six female firefighter “camp mentors” as chaperons. With the guidance of ACFD instructors, the 13 to 17-year-old girls will learn about physical fitness, emergency medical procedures, fire history and fire behavior.
“This is hands on, so it shows them they’re physically capable of doing it,” ACFD spokesperson Sarah Marchegiani said.”Most young girls are not encouraged to join the fire service or any physical career at all.”
Although one of the camp’s goals is to build self-esteem, the camp will encourage girls to consider careers as firefighters by giving them a real taste of the firefighter experience, according to Marchegiani. All campers will complete a CPR training course to become CPR certified, have fire extinguisher training and eat meals in the firehouse with ACFD firefighters. During one of Friday’s activities, ACFD staff will burn a mock bedroom to show campers how a fire acts in such a situation.
Last year, Arlington held its first girls’ firefighting camp. The CPR class is new to the camp this year, and campers will have more opportunities to handle firefighting equipment than they did last year, Marchegiani said.
“We think it’s more important to build confidence in these girls and teach them to not limit themselves,” Marchegiani said. “We anticipate the effects of this are more long term.”
While ACFD is known for hiring the first female firefighter in the U.S. in 1974, it’s comprised of less than 7 percent female, career firefighters on average, which is higher than the national average at 4 percent. The ACFD wants to encourage more young women to see themselves in a fire service career.
The ACFD increased camp registration size from 16 girls to 24 girls this year as a result of more firefighters assisting.The camp’s registration is full, but ACFD plans to hold the camp every summer.
An innovative summer camp could spark new career ambitions among high school-aged girls in Arlington who feel up for a challenge. Long term, it could also help the Arlington County Fire Department meet its goal of recruiting more female firefighters.
The Girls’ Fire Camp, a free overnight camp scheduled for July 12-14, is designed to give girls aged 13 to 16 a taste of the firefighter’s life. Participants will work out, run drills and learn skills — all under the close supervision of ACFD staff. The department’s recruiting officer, Capt. Brandon D. Jones, described the camp as a “fun-filled weekend” in which high school students will “learn how to stay in great shape” while performing basic firefighting and emergency medical tasks.
“The department hopes to make a long-term connection with the participants,” Jones said. “After they attend this camp, some may be inspired to continue their ambition to become a Firefighter/EMT in the future.”
Though Arlington was the first fire department in the country to hire a female professional firefighter, in 1974, it has struggled like other departments nationwide to recruit women for the traditionally male profession. Currently, females comprise about 9 percent of the 300-plus member Arlington department. Nationwide, only about 6 percent of firefighters are women.
As recruiters get more creative in their quest for diversity, fire camps for high school girls have proliferated. Since the Tucson Fire Department joined with the neighboring Northwest Fire/Rescue District to open its inaugural Camp Fury for girls in 2009, other jurisdictions have followed suit. The Ashland Fire Department in Massachusetts runs a Camp Bailout, the New Hampshire State Fire Academy runs a Camp Fully Involved and the Utica Fire Academy in New York offers the Phoenix Firecamp.
“The camp is a really great idea,” said Capt. Anne Marsh, an EMS supervisor and 15-year veteran of the Arlington department. “We want our department to represent the general population. So many people come into the fire department as part of a family legacy, and women have simply not had as many role models to follow.”
Campers will spend the two nights, with chaperones, at Marymount University. During the days, they will participate in activities that include physical training, a fire extinguisher class, hose drills and an aerial ladder demonstration. They will tour the Arlington fire stations and, treat of treats, dine with the on-duty crews.
“The idea is to put the possibility of becoming a firefighter on the front burner for them,” said Arlington firefighter/paramedic Jennifer Slade, a seven-year veteran of the department, “but we’re also trying to incorporate fun into it, so it’s not just learning.”
“Even if they don’t go into the field,” Slade added, “hopefully they will talk to their friends about how much fun they had.”
The camp is limited to 16 participants, who must fill out an application that includes an essay. Those interested can call 703-228-0098 or visit the camp’s web page for more information.
Photos via Arlington County. Michael Doyle is a journalist and Arlington resident. He is a member of the Cherrydale Volunteer Fire Department.
Over the past four days (July 19-22), Arlington County Fire Department’s Camp Heat provided girls ages 15-18 with a free-of-charge inside look at a career in the fire service.
Now in its fifth year, the program has hosted more than 80 campers. Participants this year came from Northern Virginia, Maryland and as far as Ohio to experience fire and emergency medical services simulations, physical training and team-building activities.
“A lot of the females [at ACFD] ended up doing this after going to school or doing other careers,” Capt. Sarah Marchegiani said. “They never really thought about it as a career just because socially, it’s not really something that we’re exposed to as little girls.”
— Arlington Fire (@ArlingtonVaFD) July 20, 2018
Erin Schartiger, a junior mentor for Camp Heat, attended the program two summers ago. Now, she is a certified firefighter in her home city of Sterling.
Camp Heat “was what pushed me [to be] like, ‘oh yeah, this is definitely something I want to try, something I want to do,'” Schartiger said.
Across the country in 2016, about four percent of career firefighters were women, according to the National Fire Protection Association. In Arlington, that number stands around 10 percent.
— Arlington Fire (@ArlingtonVaFD) July 20, 2018
So far, at least two former campers have applied in ACFD’s current hiring cycle. Though Marchegiani said she would love for all of the campers to become Arlington County firefighters, “that’s obviously not realistic.”
“In general, I hope they come out with a mindset that they can accomplish whatever they want if they work hard, they dream big and put in the effort and time,” Marchegiani said. “It’s really just all about empowering them to show them that they can achieve whatever they set their mind to.”
Arlington’s Office of Emergency Management will host its new HERricane camp at Washington-Lee High School next week, with the goal of inspiring “the next generation of firefighters, meteorologists, epidemiologists and county managers.”
Lauren Stienstra, senior manager at OEM, said she was inspired to hold a camp after she and a co-worker had a hard time naming women in emergency management for Women’s History Month. Young women in particular often account for only a small percentage of emergency management professionals.
“We started to think about a summer camp to be a way to bridge the gap, to help girls to consider fields in emergency management and allied fields,” said Stienstra.
The week-long camp from June 26-30 will give participants hands-on training with firefighting equipment and CPR. Other activities include preparing meals from emergency kits and a scavenger hunt. Registration is closed, with the camp filling up after just two weeks.
In addition to the exercises at camp, the young women involved will be able to find long term professional development opportunities. Guest instructors from the Red Cross, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Urban Alliance and the Arlington chapter of Awesome Women Entrepreneurs will all participate.
Stienstra said it makes sense for such a camp to take place in Arlington, as the county was the first to have a woman work as a professional firefighter in the 1970s.
“[Arlington County] was on the front line of integrating gender equality for that field,” Stienstra said.
Talento Selected as School Board Chair — “The Arlington School Board held its annual organizational meeting for the 2019-20 school year and elected Tannia Talento as Chair and Monique O’Grady as Vice Chair. The terms for the new Chair and Vice Chair begin immediately and will continue until June 30, 2020.” [Arlington Public Schools]
Which Amazon Units Are Coming to HQ2 — “We’re still a pretty long way from knowing what the estimated 25,000 workers at Amazon.com Inc.’s second headquarters will do, but a top company executive has named three units that will be represented in Arlington: Alexa, Amazon Web Services and Amazon’s consumer division.” [Washington Business Journal]
Private Sector Job Growth in Arlington — Arlington County’s private employment grew by nearly 20,000 jobs, or about 17%, between 2010 and 2018, according to the D.C. Policy Center. [Twitter]
Arlington Winners at the RAMMYs — Ambar in Clarendon captured the Service Program of the Year award at the 2019 RAMMYs over the weekend. The distinction of Chef of the Year at the D.C. area restaurant industry award show, meanwhile, went to Kyle Bailey of The Salt Line, which is opening a location in Ballston. [Washington Business Journal]
APS Testing New Visitor System — “Summertime will bring a security pilot program to a number of Arlington’s public schools, with a full roll-out of the initiative slated throughout the system in the fall. The new visitor-management system to be tested at five sites during the summer will require visitors, volunteers and contractors to provide specific photo identification, and their identities will then be checked against state and federal sex-offender registries.” [InsideNova]
ACFD Holds ‘Camp Heat’ — “Camp Heat, put on by the Arlington County Fire Department, concluded Friday night. During this week-long immersion into firefighting, campers learned everything from running hoses to breaking down doors to working on water rescue techniques. All the campers are young women, 15 to 18 years old.” [WJLA]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
Sunday’s Storm on Video — A Pentagon City resident captured one of Sunday’s storms on video, showing torrential rain, strong wind and a screen door that had blown off a building and got stuck in a tree. [YouTube]
Crystal City Hotel Worker Sexually Assaulted — A female employee of the Hyatt Regency hotel in Crystal City was sexually assaulted Sunday morning, according to police. A 34-year-old man from Bahrain was arrested following the assault. [WJLA, Fox 5]
Arlington Man Beaten to Death in Brooklyn — An Arlington resident was beaten to death by a 69-year-old man in his Brooklyn home, in what’s being described as a case of self-defense during a home invasion. Rodolfo Rosa, 48, of Arlington, Va., died after suffering severe head trauma during the alleged break-in and the struggle that ensued. [New York Post, New York Post]
ACFD to Hold Fire Camp for Girls — Thursday is the first day of Arlington County’s annual all-girls firefighting camp, which “introduces teens to the male-dominated career of firefighting” and encourages them to pursue a career as a firefighter or paramedic. [Washington Post]
Slow Drivers in Passing Lane to Be Fined — Starting this past Saturday, a new law went into effect in Virginia which makes it illegal to misuse the passing lane by driving slowly in the left lane longer than necessary. Those pulled over for it face a $100 fine. [WHSV]
No Flag Waving at Arlington Cemetery — It is technically illegal to wave an American flag at Arlington National Cemetery. That is an unintended side effect of — or, perhaps, collateral damage from — a 2006 federal law meant to crack down on anti-gay protests during military funerals. [Washington Post]
Photos: Costumes of BlerDCon — “The inaugural BlerDCon… brought out thousands of cosplayers of color from across the country” in Crystal City this past weekend. ESPN’s The Undefeated has photos of some of the attendees. [The Undefeated]
Photo via @kcristol
Highest Monday Wind Gusts — According to the National Weather Service, the highest wind gusts recorded in Arlington Monday, after the initial squall line came through Sunday night, were between 47 mph in Barcroft and 53 mph in Cherrydale. [National Weather Service]
Arlington Man Arrested for Bank Robbery — A 41-year-old Arlington man was arrested in D.C. Monday and accused of robbing the HSBC Bank at the corner of 14th and I streets NW. Police say the man passed the teller a note claiming to have a bomb, fled on foot with cash but was then detained by a pair of witnesses and held until police arrived. [Washington Post]
County Defends Property Purchase — Arlington County says it did not overpay by spending $800,000 to buy a house, assessed for $519,200, which was needed for the Fire Station No. 8 expansion project. The county says the owner of the home was not anxious to sell and, essentially, making them an offer they couldn’t refuse helped save time and effort compared to trying to use eminent-domain to try to acquire the property at a fair-market value. [InsideNova]
Kudos for Arlington’s Affordable Housing Plan — “Arlington has set ambitious goals to tackle housing affordability, in part by making it easier for developers to build affordable housing in the first place. According to a recent report, Arlington made plans for new affordable units and brought its number of homeless residents down last year even as rents and housing costs went up.” [Greater Greater Washington]
Registration Open for Girls Fire Camp — The Arlington County Fire Department is now taking applications for its 2017 Girls Fire Camp, which “gives teenage girls, ages 15-18, a chance to experience firsthand what it takes to be an Arlington County Firefighter/Emergency Medical Technician.” The camp will take place from July 6-9. [Arlington County]
Nearby: No New Taco Bell in Alexandria — A proposed new Taco Bell restaurant on Duke Street in Alexandria, which neighbors worried could bring “late night riff raff” and cause traffic problems, will not be opening after all. The company has withdrawn its plans for the new location. [Washington Business Journal]
This biweekly column is sponsored by the Arlington Office of Emergency Management. The author of this post, Lauren Stienstra, is the Senior Manager for Research and Policy Development in the Arlington County Office of Emergency Management.
I took my first CPR class when I was 12. I was preparing to be a babysitter. I had taken classes, watched my neighbor’s kids, and was ready to finish my “résumé” and make some spending money. I loved it. In class, I liked learning how the body worked (and failed) and loved the idea that I could help save lives.
My stint in babysitting was brief — not because I was bored or particularly bad at it — but because it evolved into a summer job as a lifeguard, then a college job as an EMT, and eventually a career as an emergency manager here in Arlington. “Emergency Manager” was not my dream job as a 12-year-old, but the early exposure to the ideas and skills around emergencies started me down a path that would lead me to an incredibly fulfilling role and career in this community.
This was part of the motivation for launching a career development program that we’re calling “HERricane Arlington.” Not many women consider careers in public safety and we’re hoping to close some of those gaps. HERricane Arlington provides young women (ages 13-17) a chance to explore emergency management and allied fields through exciting activities and exercises. We’re trying to grow and support tomorrow’s public health nurses, meteorologists, and journalists to ensure that the future has a team that can handle hurricanes, derechos, and outbreaks.
So, if you know a girl who has ever wanted to learn how to use a fire extinguisher, wondered what to do after a tornado, or dreamed of being the journalist who reports the next big disaster, this could be the program they remember for the rest of their lives!
Why HERricane Arlington?
- Representation: Women are underrepresented in leadership positions in emergency management across the nation. They occupy 34% of staff-level positions and even fewer director-level ones.
- Employment: Public safety jobs in Virginia grew 15% over the past decade and are expected to keep growing (13% by 2020!) making this a great career choice for many young women.
- Empowerment: According to the United Nations Development Programme women are more likely to be victims of disaster, especially in regards to death, sexual violence, and loss of income. Equipping girls with disaster response skills will empower them to be able to help themselves and their communities after major incidents.
What is it, exactly?
HERricane Arlington is more than a weeklong camp, it’s a community. Graduates will be encouraged to continue to develop their skills through post-camp programming and mentoring throughout the following year.
Summer Camp: A jam-packed, week-long program exploring disaster response and leadership skills, including.
- Storm spotting
- Fire extinguisher training
The Aftermath: A series of monthly activities so graduates can continue to develop in the field of emergency management. Attend our activities, earn points, win prizes! Activities include:
- Ropes course
- Movie watch parties
- 24 hours of community service alongside EM professionals
Mentorship and Early Career Support: Graduates of HERricane Arlington will be offered mentorship as well as internship and volunteer opportunities to launch them into meaningful careers.
Join the Storm!
For more information and to apply, go to: ReadyArlington.com
This program is supported by a number of partners, including the American Red Cross as well as Arlington Public Schools. We’re also fortunate to be funded by many community donors.
W-L Defeats Yorktown, Twice — The Washington-Lee girls’ and boys’ varsity basketball teams both defeated their Yorktown counterparts yesterday, in cross-county rivalry games. The girls won 54-45, while the boys won 65-59.
Branson-Backed Startup Coming to Rosslyn — OneWeb, a startup that’s aiming to launch a constellation of low-orbit satellites that will provide affordable Internet access across the globe, is coming to Rosslyn. The company, backed by Virgin Group tycoon Richard Branson, will occupy a 6,000-square-foot space in Monday Properties’ 1400 Key Blvd building. The building, which is also home to ARLnow.com, is slated to replaced with an apartment tower and grocery store at some point, though it’s unclear when the redevelopment will move forward. [Washington Business Journal]
Reminder: Get Rid of Dry Christmas Trees — The Arlington County Fire Department is reminding residents that dry Christmas trees are a big fire hazard. The county is currently in the midst of its annual Christmas tree collection. [Twitter]
A-SPAN Kudos for Paisano’s — Paisano’s Pizza saved the day for the Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network, after A-SPAN’s planned hot dinner for its homeless clients fell through at the last minute. Paisano’s delivered pasta, salad and garlic bread on a cold night and on short notice. [Facebook]
Levine Proposes LGBT Rights Bills — Yesterday we reported on three LGBT rights bills proposed by state Sen. Adam Ebbin (D). Delegate-elect Mark Levine (D), who represents part of South Arlington and Alexandria, has proposed several such bills of his own. Among them are bills prohibiting employment, housing and other discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Levine was formerly legislative counsel to former U.S. Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.). [Washington Blade]
TransportationCamp DC Coming to GMU — George Mason University’s Arlington campus will host the 5th annual TransportationCamp DC gathering on Saturday. The “un-conference” will discuss various transportation, technology and mobility issues. More than 400 “thought leaders, young professionals, and students from around the country” are expected to attend. [TransportationCamp]
Thank You to Crystal City Rotary Club — Thank you to the Crystal City-Pentagon Rotary Club for a hearty breakfast this morning. ARLnow.com founder Scott Brodbeck spoke to the group about his experience running a small business that happens to be Arlington’s most-read local news outlet. ARLnow.com will celebrate its sixth anniversary on Jan. 29.
Too Much Cash on Hand? — Is Arlington County’s nearly $300 million cash hoard excessive? Many county officials says the extra cash cushion is an example of good fiscal stewardship. County Treasurer Frank O’Leary, however, suggests the cash reserves are “causing us to pay more taxes than we should.” [Sun Gazette]
More Coverage for Girls’ Firefighting Camp — The Today Show broadcast a segment yesterday about the Arlington Girls’ Fire Camp. The unique camp has also been covered by CBS News, among other broadcast outlets. [Today Show]
Korean War Tribute at Twilight Tattoo — Last night’s Twilight Tattoo performance at Fort Myer featured a special tribute to the heroes of the Korean War. The high-energy performance commemorated the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Korean War Armistice and was hosted by Joseph Westphal, Under Secretary of the Army. [U.S. Army]
Dating Event for Ages 31-40 — Date Social, the Arlington-based dating startup, will be hosting a dating mixer for those ages 31-40 at Hard Times Cafe tonight, starting at 7:00. Tickets are $12. [Clarendon Nights]
Flickr pool photo by Ddimick