College of San Mateo Furthers its Commitment to Empowering Women in Fire Technology
College of San Mateo (CSM) and its Fire Technology Program hosted the NorCal Women in the Fire Service in an enriching collaboration with NorCal First Alarm Girls Fire Camp on Saturday, September 16, 2023. This groundbreaking initiative spanned two days, targeting regional high school girls from grades 9–12. The event was curated to provide these budding professionals with a comprehensive introduction to the rewarding career field of fire service in the Bay Area.
This collaboration gave young girls a unique insight into the world of firefighting, an experience that was both educational and profoundly transformative. Christy Baird, the Coordinator of CSM’s Fire Technology Program, reflected on the event with evident pride:
“Watching the girls work alongside female firefighters, extinguishing live fire with a fire extinguisher or climbing a 100-foot aerial ladder for the first time, gave them a sense of self-confidence, assuredness, and self-determination. We understand all these high school students will not grow up to be firefighters, but exposing them to a taste of what it would be like for a day in the life of a firefighter was priceless!”
The hands-on training was indeed an enlightening experience for the young participants, as they were exposed to various skills, including chainsaw operations, charged hose management, forcible entry techniques, and the nuances of wildland firefighting. Further, our next-gen participants witnessed a live fire demonstration facilitated by PG&E and acquired proficiency in hands-only CPR, all under the vigilant oversight of local female firefighters.
The synergy between CSM, the Fire Technology Program, and NorCal Women in the Fire Service resulted in a commendable assembly of 72 representatives from over 34 public safety establishments. What distinguished this career exploration session from earlier iterations was its unique setting within a community college framework. This enabled participants not only to acquaint themselves with a tertiary education environment but also to gain insights into the academic prerequisites associated with a career in the fire service right here in San Mateo.
“CSM takes immense pride in fostering valuable partnerships that empower our local youth,” shared Andrea Vizenor, CSM’s Executive Director of Strategic Initiatives and Economic Development. “Our collaboration with NorCal Women in the Fire Service underscores our commitment to preparing the next generation of professionals. We believe working with our community partners can create meaningful opportunities for our students and inspire a more inclusive future.”
As the curtains drew on the weekend, 17 programs spanning volunteer cadres, dispatch units, emergency medical services, seasonal firefighting units, and more were present to guide the inquisitive minds of participants. Their presence addressed pivotal questions on preparatory steps toward a fulfilling career in the fire service post-high school.
While this is the eighth First Alarm Girls Fire Camp orchestrated by NorCal Women in the Fire Service since its inception in 2018, it represents a pivotal milestone in CSM’s dedicated endeavor to promote greater female representation in the Fire Technology domain.