Sparking a passion for the fire service at Camp Ignite

Twenty female teens learn the ropes at Camp Ignite, a four-day experience that's aimed at boosting the numbers of women working in the fire service.

They learned how to deploy a fire hose, "catch" a hydrant and suit up in less than a minute — with full breathing apparatus on.

The 20 young women at the fifth annual Camp Ignite started their four-day experience at Coquitlam's Town Centre fire hall this morning (Thursday), ready to learn what it takes to be a professional firefighter.

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Vancouver firefighter and Port Moody resident Jen Dawkins said the teenagers picked to win a spot were sponsored by their municipalities to see if they want to pursue a career in the fire service after they graduate from high school.

Among this year's participants are Coquitlam's Erin Mulligan and Meaghen Longmore of Port Coquitlam.

Mulligan, 16, who's going into Grade 12 at Terry Fox secondary, said she was inspired to sign up as her dad works for the Coquitlam department while Longmore, also 16, said her goal is to become a first responder.

"I want to help other people and I have a lot of energy so I thought I would try this out," the Grade 11 Riverside secondary student said. "I've just been up on the ladder truck and it's been really fun so far."

Dawkins said while the camp is not aimed at recruiting, it's hoped the numbers of female firefighters will increase in the future; PoCo has two women in the service while Coquitlam has one and PoMo has none.

"We really want the girls to be empowered and to show them they can do whatever they want to do, even in a male-dominated profession," she said.

While Coquitlam was the base for the fundamentals training, four other departments are also hosts for Camp Ignite 2015: Port Moody will teach CPR while Delta is in charge of hazardous materials instruction and challenges. Vancouver will lead the extinguishing and tech rescue while Maple Ridge hosts the wrap-up barbecue.

And at the Justice Institute of BC, the girls will even get to put out a fire.

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