East Central High School teens filling gap for rural, female firefighters

SAN ANTONIO – Rural fire departments struggle to find enough certified candidates, but young women in the East Central Fire Science Program are trying to fill that gap.

When these East Central High students cross the stage, they will have a diploma firefighter certification and basic EMT certification. The captain and all the lieutenants of the fire science program are young women.

Some women might feel like they’re too small to do the job, but these women said they find a way to get it done.

“It doesn’t matter what size you are. It really doesn’t matter how much you weigh. You can do anything you possibly put your mind to. It’s all a mental game. It really is,” Mia Blunt, fire science lieutenant, said.

These ladies are held to the same standards as their partners, performing the same tasks with the same heavy gear.

Julianna McKenna said they find strength in each other.

“If I can’t do it by myself and Greenlee can’t do it by herself, we’ll definitely lift it together. But we won’t ask anybody else to lift because we look at each other. We’re like, ‘we have to do that,’” McKenna said.

Only 5% of the people working for the San Antonio Fire Department are women, but that’s changing.

A hands-on summer firefighter camp for girls, called Heroes Like Her, is inspiring young girls to join.

“It’s a little confidence booster,” McKenna said.

Instructors for the fire science program said the class is a pipeline to staffing small fire departments — two students are on waiting lists, to be hired upon graduation

But both men and women have similar reasons for wanting to pursue this career path.

“I just want to know that I can do something and make a difference in the world,” Blunt said.

More on KSAT:

Original News Source Link