#GIRLPOWER: This program aims at getting young girls to consider becoming firefighters

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When girls think about what they want to be when they grow up, being a firefighter is probably not the first thing that comes to mind.

But a program in Fresno is trying to change that. The city’s first female fire chief is trying to inspire young girls to follow in her footsteps.

Dozens of teenage girls got a chance to experience what it’s like to be a firefighter.

“The main goal here is we really want to expose women to the profession of being a firefighter. A lot of young girls don’t know that this is a possible career and they could be fantastic at this,” says Kerri Donis, Fresno Fire Chief.

The department held its first-ever Girls Empowerment Camp over the weekend. Currently, there are only a handful of women in the department.

Only about 4% of firefighters in the country are women.

“I wish someone would have told me at a younger age that this was a possible career because I would have gotten in much earlier,” Donis says.

Participants got to experience what it’s like to wear full fire gear and crawl through tight spaces, and the physical rigors of the job, including carrying a medical kit up several flights of stairs.

While it was geared toward girls, the camp was open to both girls and boys ages 14 to 18. Two boys took part, and the other 48 were girls, like Katelyn Peters.

“I think it’s a good thing to do if you want to go into the fire service or if you’re not sure about it,” Peters says. She was thinking about becoming a firefighter.

“I think it was a fun experience, I don’t think I could do this though,” she says.

Donis says, this is a start to show girls what their options are, more than they might imagine, and to get more women in the firefighting profession. 

“Even if they get five to ten out of this group, we are way ahead.”

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