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Cramahe firefighters hold camp for girls

By PETE FISHER, Northumberland Today


It was all about giving potential future firefighters a LIFT.

Camp LIFT stands for Ladies in Firefighter Training, which was held last week from Wednesday to Friday for 20 young ladies aged 11 to 13 at the Colborne Emergency Services Base. The camp gave the participants an interactive training experience through fire service related skills.

Captain Chris Bihun said it was three days of firefighter challenges, CPR certification, learning about life skills, team building skills, and guest speakers.

“All the girls explored new opportunities and gained in-site into themselves and self esteem building,” Bihun said.

The week ended with dignitaries presenting certificates to each girl in front of their parents.

“They were ushered out in style,” Bihun said. “Over the course of the three days, we’ve had them in bunker gear, crawling around pretending there is fires. We’ve even had them on hose lines (including a water challenge between groups).”

On Friday, the participants learned about fire extinguisher training and watched firefighters extinguish a live fire.

“It gave them an opportunity to see devices in use so if the time comes, they won’t be afraid to use them,” Bihun said. “Now they have the skills and more importantly the confidence.

“We know that these ladies are going to have their first job soon, so now they have some skills behind them like CPR if someone is choking,” he added. “They are also familiar with a home escape plan.”

The committee began last fall planning towards the three day camp and help from sponsors made it all possible.

Reagan Purdy, 12, from Colborne said she ran around the house when she found out she was accepted for the program.

“I’ve always wanted to help people and I thought this would be a really good start so I took the chance,” she said.

The benefits of the camp have already paid off for Purdy.

“Last (Thursday) one of our chargers for our phone nearly caught fire so thanks to this camp if there was a small fire I would have known how to put it out,” she said. “I was always afraid around fires, but now I feel a little more confident.”

Purdy said she learned about what do so if someone is choking and added that she is much more familiar using an AED if an emergency took place at an arena.

“It’s been a great course,” she said.

Cramahe Township Fire Chief Brandon Northrup explained the firefighters volunteered their time, with some even taking vacation, to help run the program for the girls.

“It’s well-known that firefighting is a male dominated occupation so we are trying to break down the barrier and open up a career possibly for young women,” Northrup said.

Northrup is proud of the diverse fire service in Cramahe Township, which has five female firefighters (out of 30 total) and members of the service who speak five different languages.

‘I think we’re an industry leader across the province,” Northrup suggested.

Northrup said he’s grateful for the firefighters and all the sponsors who helped support Camp LIFT.

“We’re building confidence and getting kids certified, and they’re also making friends,” he said.

Northrup said he hopes when these girls become 18-years-old he will see resumes from them.

“I hope some of these are members of an upcoming recruit course in the future,” he said.