Proving that firefighting isn’t a career path just for men, a group of female W.L. Seaton Secondary students got a firsthand look at the job alongside members of Vernon Fire Rescue Services (VFRS).
The Grade 10 students were selected for the day of training after showing interest in a firefighting career in written essays. The hands-on training was led by longtime VFRS member Lt. Allyson Reich.
“It was exciting to welcome the students from W.L. Seaton into our department and show them that firefighting is a career that can be available to anyone,” said Reich, an 18-year VFRS veteran and Vernon’s first female firefighter.
“I hope that at the end of the day, these young women felt empowered and encouraged to pursue something that challenges them, fulfills them, and gives them the confidence to occupy space in one of the greatest careers ever.”
The training day followed VFRS’s most recent recruitment effort and is part of a Vernon School District pilot project.
Student Mya Koleba said the department did well to simulate some of the experiences that come with the job — and it doesn’t hurt to learn from an experienced female firefighter.
“It is important to understand the different careers that are out there, not just hear of them, but actually understand what takes place. It was so great to learn from Lt. Reich what it is like to be a female first responder in a male-dominated field. I think that it is important for more women to become a part of the firefighting industry.”
Josh Vance, district principal of career education with School District 22, said mentorship from women working in the field is great for inspiring female students and opening them up to different career options.
“I truly believe that you can’t be what you can’t see, and if young girls don’t see themselves in firefighters, they may not know that they too can do this work,” said Reich. “I am so proud to wear our uniform and show the next generation that they can be whatever they set their minds to. Yes, it’s hard. Yes, it takes work. But it’s worth all the effort to achieve something you are so passionate about.”