LA County Fire Department brings back Women's Fire Prep Academy after 2-year hiatus due to COVID-19

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- After a 2-year hiatus due to the pandemic, the Los Angeles County Fire Department is reviving its Women's Fire Prep Academy.

The experience is a hands-on lesson for dozens of hopeful female firefighters as they're put through the paces at the academy.

"We're going to get hands on the tools that we use. We're going to do ladder throwing, hose lays, breathing apparatus donning, things that you get tested on when you go through a professional fire academy," said L.A County Fire Captain Sarah Cortez. "Now they get their hands on that equipment, they know how to use it, and then when they do continue to pursue a career, and they go into a professional fire academy, they have all the tools that they need."

The goal is to attract more women especially those who may not have had any experience with the fire service or even realized it is a possible career.

"As a little girl I never really saw female firefighters, and so, seeing and networking with other individuals who are looking to come into this career is definitely important," said L.A. County firefighter Sydney Gagnier.

The Fire Prep Academy is open to anyone. The focus now is on female candidates. More than 300 people applied, but about 150 made it into the academy, and through the tough fitness assessment.

"It's, about 70 percent of the women make it through, and we're going to be, it's definitely a paramilitary type program," Gagnier said.

This is the department's sixth Fire Prep Academy. The last two years were put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now that they're back in training officials are hoping some of these women will soon be some of the newest recruits.

It's exciting to see a lot of these people who are really wanting to pursue a career, and, you know, it's rewarding to be able to help them," Cortez added.

The participants will spend the next five weekends in training. Many of them will prepare to then apply to the L.A. County Fire Department.

For more information on the Women's Fire Prep Academy, click here.
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