Phoenix Firecamp 2012 graduated 22 teenage girls, ages 15-19, from the intensive annual training week conducted by Fire Service Women of NYS, Inc. (FSWNYS), which is aimed at educating young women about career opportunities in the fire and emergency services.
Twenty graduates are from New York State; one camper is from Philadelphia and another, Ontario. Nine NYS Explorer Posts, the largest number to date, were represented in the 2012 graduating class.
Camp Director Lt. Anna Schermerhorn-Collins (FDNY) said this year’s campers were the most diverse group since the program began in 2007; to date there are 119 graduates. “We had three young women who are members of volunteer fire departments, nine from Explorer Posts, three with limited EMS training and the other seven had no prior exposure to fire and emergency services.”
Schermerhorn-Collins said that the staffing complement this year was equally diverse and included four Phoenix Firecamp graduates. Of the 21 female instructors and team leaders, 14 were from NYS volunteer departments, five from the FDNY, one each from Rochester and Buffalo FDs and one from a corporate FD.
“We were joined by members of volunteer departments in Vermont, Alabama and Pennsylvania and a Maryland career firefighter. We welcome qualified women firefighters, paramedics and EMTs from throughout the US and Canada to apply for a staff position, understanding this is entirely volunteer and staff pay all their own expenses,” she said.
The City of Utica FD and the Westmoreland Volunteer FD partner with FSWNYS in producing the camp. Utica provides camper housing, logistical support, equipment, EMS coverage and the use of its apparatus, firehouses and the training grounds. Westmoreland donates transportation, hosts two evening social events, secures donations from area businesses and coordinates the participation of other Mohawk Valley volunteer fire departments and their auxiliaries. The Frankfort FD again contributed its mobile flashover simulator and the Yorkville FD made its aerial ladder truck available.
Phoenix Firecamp is free, except for a non-refundable $75 application fee. A maximum of 24 campers, ages 14–19, are accepted annually from a field of candidates and no prior experience with the fire service is required. Only those who have not attended previously may apply. Applicants must be in good health, have medical insurance and come equipped with a pair of steel-toed shoes. Those 17 years old or younger must be transported to and from camp by a responsible adult. Phoenix 2013 will be held July 21–26; the deadline for applications is May 1, 2013. Photos and information about Phoenix Firecamp are at: www.fswnys.org. The 2013 applications and specifics will be posted after January 1, 2013.