Oakland Holds Firefighting Camp for Girls and Non-Binary Teens

The NorCal First Alarm Girl's Fire Camp took place in Oakland September 17-18, 2022. Photo by Momo Chang.

The Oakland Fire Department hosted a firefighting camp, the first of its kind in Oakland, in partnership with NorCal First Alarm Girls Fire Camp in September. More than 60 teens signed up for the weekend camp and learned how to use a fire hose, break into a door in an emergency, and use a power saw, among other hands-on activities. All of the camp’s participants were girls, female-identifying, and non-binary teens from the region.

It was the first time that Oakland’s Fire Department hosted a training with the organization, which rotates locations. This specific camp was for 14-17 year-olds. On November 5 and 6, the Oakland Fire Department will host a training for college students, in partnership with Golden State Women in Fire the Service.

Candice Koshman showing the campers how to use equipment. The NorCal First Alarm Girls Fire Camp took place in Oakland September 17-18, 2022. Photo by Momo Chang.

“Growing up, I didn’t know I could be a firefighter,” said Candice Koshman, who has been in the Oakland Fire Department since 2008. “I never saw another female firefighter. These kids come, and they get to see women who look like them.”

Nationally, women make up only four percent of field engineers, the firefighters who go and put out fires and respond to other emergencies, although other jobs in the fire department as a whole have more women.

A participant at the NorCal First Alarm Girls Fire Camp in 2022 puts out a fire as part of the weekend training camp. Photo by Momo Chang.

NorCal First Alarm hopes to encourage and build a pipeline for young girls who want to enter the field. Some young girls and women may not think to become a firefighter because they had never encountered one. Others are the solo female firefighter in their departments. Oakland’s fire department is likely one of the more diverse ones in the region, with 21 female or non-binary firefighters in the department.

A participant of the girls fire camp watches as another participant learns how to set up a ladder. Photo by Momo Chang.
A firefighter demonstrates equipment and safety to a group of girls at a fire training camp for teens in Oakland, CA. Photo by Momo Chang.
The NorCal First Alarm Girls Fire Camp took place in Oakland September 17-18, 2022 at the Oakland Fire Department training center. Photo by Momo Chang.

For more information about NorCal First Alarm Girls Fire Camp, visit their website. To learn more about Town Firefighters, visit their Facebook or Instagram pages.

Author Profile

Momo Chang is a freelance journalist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is the Oakland Voices Co-Director. Her work focuses on healthcare, immigration, education, Asian American communities, food and culture. She is a former staff writer at the Oakland Tribune. Momo has received journalism awards from the Society of Professional Journalists for investigative reporting and the Asian American Journalists Association, among others. Her work has appeared in the East Bay Express, San Francisco Chronicle, Wired, and The New York Times. Momo is primarily a print journalist who also produces audio and visual stories for documentary film and radio. She is a Senior Contributing Editor for Hyphen and formerly the Content Manager at the Center for Asian American Media (CAAM).

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.