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Courtenay Fire Department sponsors student to attend all-girl firefighting camp

28 campers will attend the first-ever Island Ignite Summer Camp in Victoria
On June 19, the Courtenay Fire Department invited Ellie Wingenbach to participate in the first all-girl Island Ignite Summer Camp. (Photo courtesy of the Courtenay Fire Department)

On the morning of June 19, Ellie Wingenbach was invited to the Courtenay Fire Department to make sure that she was ready for the all-girl Island Ignite firefighting camp.

“We had Ellie come in and got her all done up with all the appropriate firefighting equipment for the camp,” said Courtenay Fire Department Lt. Ian Roberston. “We taught her a little bit about the operations of the fire department and how we do things here in Courtenay.”

In addition to providing the gear required for the camp, the city’s fire department is also paying for Ellie’s entry fees for the camp.

Wingenbach, 18, told the Record that she originally contemplated becoming a paramedic, but after realizing that most firefighters have their EMR training, she considered reorienting her career path.

“I just wanted to have a hands-on experience of what being a firefighter is,” said Wingenbach. “It’s just a really good opportunity to figure out what I want to do when I’m older.”

The camp will be hosted by the Victoria Fire Department from July 7-9.

During the event, 28 young women from Grades 11 to 12, will sharpen their firefighting skills through a wide variety of drills simulating auto extrication, forcible entry, hose handling, and many more.

This year marks the first-ever Ignite Island Summer Camp, which was made possible by the Campbell River-based non-profit Island Ignite Mentorship Society.

Modelled after Vancouver’s Camp Ignite Mentorship Program, the Island Ignite Mentorship Society seeks to empower and support young women to participate in the Island’s fire services.

As of today, according to the Island Ignite Mentorship Society’s website, women currently represent only four per cent of the fire service internationally.

Robertson believes that this initiative would benefit not only the women who wish to participate in firefighting but the industry as a whole.

“Obviously we’re thrilled to work with Island Ignite and assist them in creating opportunities that give female youth the confidence to explore those non-traditional jobs and empower them,” said Roberston. “I think we, I think any sector would benefit from a larger cross-section of backgrounds and experiences. I think that is what makes the fire service so great is that we have such a (diverse) demographic we would always do better with more.”

READ MORE: Fire at North Island College in Courtenay

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Olivier Laurin

About the Author: Olivier Laurin

Olivier is a bilingual multimedia journalist from Montréal, Québec. He possesses a deep curiosity and a passion for exploring the connections between people and their communities.
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