Rutland Senior Secondary student Kevin Millard pulls a coiled firehouse up the side of a building as part of the firefighter training. - Credit: Carli Berry/Capital News

Kelowna’s first female structural firefighter to join department

Students got a taste of firefighting Wednesday as part of the annual boot camp

The first woman to take on a full time firefighting role in Kelowna starts Monday.

Firefighting is currently a male-dominated industry. A report in 2015 indicated that less than four per cent of Canada’s firefighters are women. At Kelowna’s firehalls the number is even lower.

Until this week, the city fire stations had no women employed as structural firefighters. There are, however, two women firefighters at the airport, which isn’t the city’s jurisdiction. There are also two paid on-call women fire-fighters.

Only about 30 of 500 candidates that apply for full-time firefighter roles are women, said Rick Euper, fire line safety fire inspector.

Fire prevention officer Gayanne Pacholzuk said there is a stigma around firefighting that may prevent women from applying for jobs in the field.

“I think the days are gone of being the fastest and the strongest person out there. There’s a lot more to firefighting rather than just the brawn anymore,” she said.

“I am the biggest advocate for women in the fire service and I tell these young girls ‘look, you just have to be fit’… it doesn’t mean I have to lift (people) over our shoulders like in the old days.”

Camps like Camp Ignite, a youth mentorship program for girls, is run by female firefighters in the Lower Mainland focuses on enticing young women into the firefighting service, she said.

In her more than 20 years in the firefighting service, part of which was served as a firefighter at Kelowna’s airport, she said she never face discrimination.

At an annual firefighting bootcamp that involved local highschool students, there were some who showed that there was an appetite Rutland Senior Secondary student Carlie Dudych hopes to change that number.

“I always found it very interesting, I love helping people… it’s definitely something I want to do,” she said. “I love being hands on.”

Dudych is a junior on-call firefighter with the Joe Rich department and said it was exciting to hear the news of a new female firefighter in Kelowna.

She sharpened her skills at the annual firefighter boot camp, which took place Wednesday, April 18 at Station 1 on Enterprise Way. Around 75 Grade 9 to 12 students from across the district, a quarter of them were girls, were given the opportunity to carry a firehose, drag a dummy, scramble a ladder on one of the firetrucks and haul a hose up a three-storey building.

“We just don’t see it here, they’re my family, they’re my friends.”

“If they can pass the physical exams and the testing, they’re as good as anyone else,” Euper said.

To report a typo, email: edit@kelownacapnews.com.


@carliberry_
carli.berry@kelownacapnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Missing: Elderly woman in Revelstoke

The missing female is Alice Lines, a long-time resident of Revelstoke. She was last seen at 8 pm Friday night when she left her home.

Voting Day: Here’s what you need to know

Voting stations are open until 8 p.m.

Kids have fun at the Mountain Harvest Festival

The Begbie View Elementary School gym was packed Friday night with Halloween activities

VIDEO TOUR: Eagle Pass Lodge recognized at Thompson Okanagan Kootenay Commercial Building Awards

Eagle Pass Heli Skiing’s lodge is located south of Revelstoke on Highway 23

Former Vernon man guilty of Japanese exchange student’s murder

Natsumi Kogawa was found at empty heritage mansion shortly after she was reported missing in 2016

Tommy Chong says cannabis legalization makes him proud to be a Canadian

Legendary marijuana advocate and comedian celebrates cultural milestone at Kelowna event

B.C. passenger caught smoking weed in a car issued $230 fine

Saanich police did a field sobriety test on the driver and deemed it safe for him to drive

Payette invites critics to ‘come and spend a few days’ with her

Governor General Julie Payette made her first official to B.C. back in March

More pot stores expected in B.C. in coming ‘weeks and months’: attorney general

Attorney General David Eby and Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth visited the new BC Cannabis Store in the province’s Interior

Telus launches charitable foundation to help vulnerable youth

The Telus Friendly Future Foundation complements other social initiatives by the company, including Mobility for Good

Police say suspicious death of B.C. artist ruled a homicide

Patrick Zube Aylward’s body was found in a residence on a rural road outside of Seton Portage, west of Lillooet, B.C.

Temporary roads being built in areas affected by landslide in northern B.C.

Emergency Management BC news release says Disaster Financial Assistance is available to eligible residents of the Peace River Regional District who may have been affected by the landslides

B.C. tickets win big in Lotto Max draw

Jackpot carried over; B.C. tickets share Max Millions prizes

Most Read