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Young Women’s Fire Camp


EUGENE, Ore. — The Young Women’s Fire Camp wrapped up day four over at the Eugene Fire and EMS Center where they got up close to a real fire.

Wearing their hood, jacket, pants, face mask, air tank and helmet, the girls were sweating before they even get close to a fire.

“It’s heavy, and it does make you sweat bad, especially in the heat,” said camper Patti Withrow.

And Thursday there was plenty of heat with most of it coming from the first station.

Firefighters call it the “Christmas tree”. It shoots propane, and the girls, led by counselor Shannon Clawson, have to use their hoses to put it out.

“The main key of it all is teamwork and communication and making sure that you’re listening to one another,” Withrow said.

A little less intimidating is station two: the palette fires on the other side of the training lot.

Carly Schmidt, a Lowell volunteer firefighter, says this is the day a lot of the week’s lessons click for the girls.

“When they get up close to a fire just knowing that they have the skills to put the fire out, that they can work together as a team of three to get the hose, which can be heavy, and get water exactly where they need it,” Schmidt said.

It may seem pretty basic, but the campers will tell you it’s not, especially on a day like today.

Schmidt says the heat is one of the most challenging and startling factors.

“It’s been a hot week so they’re having a hard time the turnouts are heavy and it’s hot in there. You become you’re own little easy bake oven. It’s a hard thing to get used to, even as a firefighter, you never really get used to that heat,” Schmidt said.

That’s is why many of the girls spent a good chunk of time at the third station–rehab, exercising their shade and gatorade skills.

Most of Thursday’s drills are in preparation for Friday, the last day of camp, when the girls will take on a burning building and probably sweat a lot more than they did Thursday.

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