Female firefighters from IAFF Locals 2665, 73 teach women firefighting skills in hopes of future recruitment

Missouri Correspondent

HOSES UP – Two groups of women in Fire Up St. Louis Camp learn how work together to extend and properly use fire hoses. – Labor Tribune photo

When Kelly D’Angelo became a fire fighter in 2005, she noticed there weren’t a lot of women in the industry and relied on other female fire fighters for advice. That’s why she jumped at the chance to take part in a fire camp for women considering the field.

The Fire Up St. Louis event, sponsored by the Florissant Valley Fire Protection District (FVFPD), offered 30 women aged 18 to 40 insight on how to get started in the fire service and learn what the job is all about in a three-day, hands-on experience.

“When I first started, I relied on other female fire fighters to show me different ways of doing things because I am a women,” said D’Angelo, a member of Fire Fighters Local 2665 with the Creve Coeur Fire Department. “So I was happy to share that knowledge with other women thinking about becoming fire fighters.”

CEILING COLLAPSE – Kelly D’angelo, a Fire Fighters Local 2665 member of the Creve Coeur Fire Department (on the ground), shows two participants attending a recent fire camp for women how to maneuver through wires of a collapsed ceiling in full gear. – Labor Tribune photo

Participants gained knowedge on how to get started in the fire service and learn what the job is all about in a hands-on experience. The women were taught how to breathe when putting on a fire fighting mask, how to extend and properly use hoses and how to maneuver through wires of a collapsed ceiling in full gear.

Kate Freshman, a FVFPD fire fighter/paramedic and member of IAFF Local 2665, organized the event and said she was thrilled with the turnout and hopes to make it a yearly event.

“I was overwhelmed with the response to the program,” Freshman said. “It’s like a mini academy in one so the women are trying every skill needed on the job in a guilt-free environment.”

Katie Michaud, 23, was one of the participants of the event, which was held April 21 to 23 in Florissant. She recently graduated from EMT school here and then moved to New York to become a model.

“Fire fighting is a completely different career choice, but it’s always been something I’ve wanted to do,” she said. “This offers a perfect opportunity for me to make connections and I’m excited to learn about the industry first hand.”

Lauren Johnson, a lifeguard who’s waiting to get into EMT school, also attended the fire camp. She noted some of her parent’s friends are in the field.

“This event is helping me learn where my strengths are and showing me what I need to work on,” said Johnson, 18. “I’m grateful for the opportunity.”

In addition to the hands-on training and the exposure to the field of fire and emergency medical services, participants also learned about educational opportunities and received tips on building a resume.

“We talked about specific requirements they’d need to get into fire departments in St. Louis County, St. Charles County and St. Louis City,” Freshman said. “The event was particularly timely because the St. Louis City Fire Department is currently hiring.”

Freshman, who came up with the idea for the camp, attended an international Women in Fire conference last year and met some female fire fighters in Oregon who were hosting a similar program for women in the same age group. She took the idea to FVFPD district officials and developed a training manual.

“The participants were amazing and should be proud of their hard work,” Freshman said. “We’d also want to thank all the instructors from across the St. Louis area for making this experience happen.”

Stay tuned for information on next year’s fire camp by following Fire Up St. Louis on Facebook.


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