The Oklahoma City Fire Department is holding a two-day event this weekend called, Camp Inferno. It's the first event of its kind in the area and crews hope a first-hand look at what life is like as a firefighter will attract more women to the career field.
If you can saw your way to help someone in danger, or put a fire out, your gender doesn't matter.
“Male, female, no matter what, you're expected to do the same tasks and perform the same job,” said Oklahoma City Fire Department's Tammy McKinney.
But this kind of work typically attracts mostly men. There are only 54 active, paid, female firefighters in the entire state. At least 22 of them are in Oklahoma City, out of more than 900 total firefighters in the city. And OKC wants at least half of its crew to be made up of women.
So they're starting a new recruitment camp to show women what it's like to be a part of the team.
“I think it comes down to confidence. I think it comes down to that it is a male-dominated profession and that women just don't realize that there's a lot of opportunity here for them,” McKinney said.
McKinney said many of the ones that do go for it have a hard time passing the physical test, called a CPAT. That's where aspiring firefighters have 10 minutes to climb stairs, move tools, drag hose, carry a 170-pound mannequin, and set up a ladder, among other tasks.
But it's doable. McKinney said she overcame those challenges 22 years ago.
“I like the challenge of the fact that I had to go to work every day and prove myself and work very hard…you're serving your community and what a greater honor.”
If you want to take part in Camp Inferno on Saturday and Sunday in Choctaw, register by calling Cathy Dawson at (405) 390-5315. It costs $55 and you must be 16 years or older.
Multiple agencies in the area are taking part in the event. It will be completely instructed by women.