Firefighting girls in training
Dayna Bekkers of Russell (sitting on hose) attended Camp FITT in Ottawa recently for girls considering firefighting, while volunteer and Russell Fire Dept. member Kate Staal instructed. Dayna is following in her sister Rachel’s footsteps, who attended camp in 2011. In the photo, Staal is teaching Bekkers and the other girls about hoses and proper hose handling techniques.        Courtesy photo

Candice Vetter
Villager Staff
OTTAWA – Local Russell volunteer firefighter Kate Staal just served for her sixth time at Camp FFIT in Ottawa, a firefighter training camp for young women at the Ottawa Fire Services Training Centre on Industrial Ave. in Ottawa.

Ottawa Fire Services, in partnership with Fire Service Women Ontario, ran Camp FFIT (Female Firefighters in Training) 2017, from Aug. 21 to 25. This year, Staal, who has been a volunteer firefighter with the Russell Fire Department for eight years, served there for a day, not having time to devote the whole week like she had done in the previous five years of volunteering at the camp.

The camp teaches young women between the ages of 15 and 19 about the career of firefighting. Participants performed a series of tasks, including search and rescue, auto extrication, forcible entry, catching hydrants, high rise operations and aerial ladder climb, wearing full PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) and SCBA (Self Contained Breathing Apparatus), and fighting simulated kitchen and car fires.

Participants also had many opportunities to speak to women and men who work at Ottawa Fire Services, as well as other firefighters from neighbouring communities like Russell. Staal reported enjoying the exercise of showing girls what firefighting is about. “It gives them a chance to test whether they want to pursue firefighting,” she said. “It’s fun for them and me.”