The 6th annual Phoenix Firecamp, a free weeklong overnight camp for girls ages 14-19, will be held July 15-20, 2012, at the Utica, NY Fire Training Academy.
The program, conducted by Fire Service Women of NYS, Inc. (FSWNYS), in partnership with the Utica Fire Department and the Westmoreland Volunteer Fire Department, is designed to acquaint young women with their opportunities in fire and emergency services.Applicants are accepted from throughout the US and Canada.
Since the camp’s inception in 2007, 97 girls from New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, South Carolina, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Alabama and Quebec have graduated. The majority are now involved in fire and EMS services in their hometowns.
The program utilizes hands-on and classroom training to develop confidence, enhance leadership skills, foster friendly competition, nurture community spirit, broaden problem solving abilities, encourage team building and promote inclusiveness. The curriculum, an abbreviated version of a firefighter recruit class, includes various EMS components such as: auto extrication/disentanglement, patient stabilization, splinting, bleeding control, engine ops/medical, ambulance familiarization, water rescue (safety and patient stabilization.) At the conclusion of the week, the campers are CPR certified. The curriculum is based upon International Fire Service Training Association (IFSTA) guidelines.
Although the schedule is rigorous, there is a lot of time built in to socialize, relax, have fun and make new friends from New York and other states. Camper housing is at the Academy, a former firehouse, so the girls have a real “firehouse living” experience. The Phoenix instructors and team leaders are primarily volunteer and career members of FSWNYS, who volunteer their time and pay their own expenses for the week. Camp Director Lt. Anna Schermerhorn-Collins (FDNY) said that Phoenix graduates will be added to the staff this year.
Utica FD provides camper housing, logistical support, equipment, EMS coverage and the use of its apparatus, firehouses and the training grounds. Westmoreland VFD donates transportation, hosts two evening social events, secures donations from area businesses and coordinates the participation of other volunteer fire departments and their auxiliaries. The Frankfort Fire Department volunteers its mobile flashover simulator for forcible entry and search and rescue exercises.
The applicants must be in good physical condition, have medical insurance, a positive attitude and be willing to abide by the rules of the camp and participate in all the activities. Those accepted are expected to arrange for their own transportation to and from Utica and come equipped with a pair of steel-toed shoes to substitute for boots. Other protective gear is provided by the camp.
Phoenix Firecamp is free, except for a non-refundable $75 application fee. A maximum of 24 campers are accepted annually from a national field of candidates. Applications are now being accepted and must be postmarked by May 1, 2012 to be considered. All the Phoenix information and the application is posted at: www.fswnys.org
FSWNYS/Phoenix Firecamp was recently selected from a field of 40 nominations from throughout North America to receive the first annual Fire 20/20 Tony Pini Award for “outstanding work to build a diverse and inclusive fire department culture.” The US Department of Homeland Security recognized the importance of Phoenix Firecamp in the recruitment and retention of firefighters by granting a 2010 SAFER grant to FSWNYS to launch marketing efforts for the camp.