Alburgh, VT — A dozen current and future firefighters met in Alburgh for the first-ever Frontline Females Firefighting Camp.
Chief Ron Kumetz, of the Alburgh Fire Department., said Vermont needs more volunteer firefighters, especially, female volunteers.
“We realized we’re only marketing to half the population,” he said . “We aren’t going out of our way to show women that they’re welcome here and that we need them and want them.”
To show women they’re wanted and needed, Kumetz thought it would be a good idea to hold a two-day camp for women and girls ages 16 to 20 where they get to learn the tricks of the firefighting trade and get some hands-on experience.
Kumetz says the inspiration to hold the camp came after realizing the department needed to create new ways to recruit. “Over the years, we’ve realized our recruiting efforts are not tremendously successful for the most part. We are doing the same thing over and over again and expecting things to improve and we suddenly came to the realization that we were going to have to change or we were in trouble.”
Thus, the Frontline Females Firefighting Camp was born. Participants in the camp had a range of experiences from none at all to those already working for different departments in the state.
“I just like learning about everything because I’m kind of starting out from not really knowing much, so I think it was a good overview of everything and a good introduction,” said Samantha Berry. “I’m here to get more skills because I just joined my fire department in March and I had no prior knowledge so coming here has helped me a lot.”
Important practices like learning how to put out a car fire and moving quickly in an emergency situation were all part of the curriculum on Sunday. The event was organized by Monica Dhumal and Gabrielle Viens, two firefighters in Alburgh. At the end of the day, Viens says she was pleased with how the camp turned out and is already mapping out a plan for next year.
“Everyone did really well and showed up on the second day, so that’s our number one big success and a lot of them are going into the firefighting field so it’s a big win,” said Viens. “We already have people signing up for 2023.”