This girl is on fire: Junior engages in firefighter training


Feld realized from a young age that she wanted to be a fire fighter. Now, she is actively pursuing the career through her training.

Emma Bird, Staff Writer

Most kindergarteners have big dreams for their careers; however, their goals become more practical as they enter high school. Junior Julia Feld, holds on to her ambitious dream despite the fact that many others have changed their minds.

Since January of 2014, Feld has been participating in a program called Explorers, which provides not only practical training for aspiring firefighters but also advice on what steps one should take to get there. “We’re basically firefighters in training. They teach us all the things we need to know and how to get ahead. They’re teaching us ways to be prepared to get hired,” Feld said.

Feld held on to her goals from when she was younger and eventually came to the conclusion that firefighting was something she actually wanted to pursue. “I was five was when I first [realized I] wanted to do it. Then, last year someone in Confirmation told me about [Explorers], and I decided to join a few days later. It occurred to me that I could do this, and it would be really, really fun,” Feld said.

Throughout the program, the explorers participate in many activities and drills to prepare them for being firefighters. The most hands-on activity that they took part in was the liveburn.

“There were two houses that they were going to burn down, but they decided to let the fire department train in them. They took us in [the house] and set a fire in the front room. [They also] taught us how fire grows, how to attack it and put it out. It was the coolest thing,” Feld said.

This program also prepares the explorers by teaching good interview skills, and the certifications needed to give potential firefighters an edge. When applying for jobs Feld believes she will need this edge due to the fact that she is a girl. Because she is in the minority among firefighters, she must prove that she can do just as well as any man. “[Being a girl] will make it harder for me. Because of stereotypes, people think, ‘oh they’re a girl, they can’t do that,’ and that it’s a man’s profession. Obviously, we can do it,” Feld said.

In the U.S., less than 10% of firefighters are women. This lack of gender balance is an issue that is especially problematic in big cities. “In New York, they had to mandate [fire stations] to hire girls because they wouldn’t have done it otherwise. They have to realize that there are girls that want to do this, [and] there are girls that can do this,” Feld said.

Luckily, Feld already has a plan that she hopes will give her the advantage she is looking for to get hired. “I’m looking predominantly at colleges [that offer] programs for Fire 1 and Fire 2 certifications, which are what you need to legally be a firefighter, and a paramedic certification, which is really going to help me get hired,” Feld said.

Her preparations don’t stop there. “I’m thinking about at the end of next year taking an EMT class and [getting] my license by the time I turn eighteen, so I can go right from graduating high school into a paramedic program,” Feld said.

Feld knows that there is a lot more to firefighting than just earning the necessary certifications, but she is willing to do whatever it takes to live out her dream. “If it meant giving up my life to save another life, I would do it,” Feld said.