Nearly 60 teenagers from across the southland are gathering at the Irvine Training Center to see and experience what it’s like to be a firefighter.

“It’s very fun for the girls to see other female firefighters because you can’t be what you can’t see,” said Mackenzie Snyder, a firefighter paramedic with the Orange County Fire Authority.

The girls empowerment camp, now going on its third year, is designed as a free two-day program packed with mentorship and guidance from the best in the field.

“They’re going to be throwing ladders, confidence course, and learn about fire fitness to take care of the body and be strong for the job,” said Shelly Appleby a firefighter with Orange County Fire Authority.

Students were able to fully immerse themselves in the experience and get the real experience of what firefighters go through.

“We had to wear the uniform,” said Jennifer Camacho, a senior at San Juan Hills high School. “It’s really heavy and really hot yesterday.”

It allowed the girls to gain a new appreciation for the firefighters.

“It’s a difficult job and they don’t get as much recognition as they deserve,” said Maddison Spencer, a senior at Western High School in Anaheim.

From chain saws to swinging an ax and even rappelling out of building, they’ll get to do it all. But the experience goes beyond the work outs. 

“People are cheering you on,” Charlie Reddix said. “It feels good.”

The agency says it’s about learning to let go of your fears, gaining confidence, and knowing you’re capable of achieving success in anything you do.

“I have so much respect for them, they are so strong and powerful and do so much,” said Audrina Villegas a student at Fullerton High School. “It motivates me.”



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