Edmonton firefighting camp aims to recruit more women, gender diverse people to city’s service

Tyana Lafleche has no doubt about what women bring to the table when it comes to fighting fires. 

Lafleche was part of a group of 20 women put to the test at an Edmonton fire training facility Sunday.

She walked into a building with a fire roaring over her head, rappelled off a building and crawled her way out of confined spaces. 

“It’s not just for men anymore and women can do anything that men are capable of doing,” Lafleche said. “It’s all about our strength in the way we carry ourselves, and our confidence.”

Women currently make up about four per cent of the fire service in Canada, according to industry estimates.

Camp Inspire, an Edmonton Fire Rescue Services’ training program, aims to increase that number by recruiting more women and people from gender diverse communities into firefighting careers. 

Deputy fire chief Tiffany Edgecombe said the service is encouraging women to join the ranks. She said she wants to service to better reflect the community.

“We can absolutely see through the excitement and enthusiasm here today that women are excited about firefighting as a career, and Edmonton Fire is here to support them,” she said.

“This is a really nice, inclusive experience where women can come without the fear of not being able to perform the physical tasks that are expected of a firefighter. 

“We show them that they can absolutely perform those tasks, and it’s just a very welcoming environment to come and participate with like-minded individuals who are curious about the career option and the growth of the service.”

A Camp Inspire participant rappels down a building at an Edmonton fire training facility on Sunday, Sept. 19, 2021. (Emily Fitzpatrick/CBC)

Andriana Jankulovski, a communications specialist and aspiring firefighter, travelled from Toronto to participate in the program.  

“I’ve been thinking about firefighting for a really long time and this past year I’ve been really focused on my physical fitness and really just getting mentally ready and physically prepared to change my career,” she said.

The hands-on experience has bolstered her aspirations to fight fires for a living. 

“Slamming through a wall and just fitting yourself through it … I didn’t think I was able to do those things and I did,” she said.  

“It has been the most amazing experience ever.”

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