Young women and fire: 'Most women wouldn't want to do this'

EUGENE, Ore. - Teens taking part in the Young Women's Fire Camp worked together Thursday to tackle live fire scenarios as part of the camp for high school-aged girls organized by the Eugene and Springfield fire departments.

The young women have spent the week training as firefighters to learn more about the demands of the job.

Organizers said the goal is to build leadership skills and give young women more exposure to firefighting as a career.

"It's really tough doing drill and just running around in our turnouts all day," said Hannah Delaplain of Creswell. "Most women wouldn't want to do this. But this is tough, you have to be tough mentally and physically."

"I thought it would be a good idea because I also want to be a firefighter/paramedic," said Maddison Vanis, whose dad is a lieutenant with the Pleasant Hill Fire Department. "I'm only 14, so I got a while, but good to start now."

The campers graduate from the program Friday.

This is the second year for the program. Participants apply to take part. The camp is free to the young women selected to take part.

"I signed up because I'm interested in becoming an EMT firefighter," Delaplain said, "and I felt like this would push me harder and it's really tough.

"Being a girl, wanting to be a firefighter, it's really like challenging to carry around all the weight on the shoulders," she said. "And you're walking in boots and turnouts, so it's really, extremely tough."