The five-day camp that teaches teenage girls about firefighting makes a stop in town

ATASCADERO — Teenage girls ages 14-18 from all over Southern California came to the Central Coast to participate in Camp Cinder from Wednesday, June 22, through Sunday, June 26. The five-day/four-night firefighting camp included a stop at Atascadero’s Fire Station 1 on the afternoon of Friday, June 24. There the group of 20 girls participated in climbing the 100-foot ladder on Atascadero Aerial Ladder Truck 7545.

“They [the girls] stay in the Cal Poly dorms, and we take them out to different stations over the week and introduce them to basic firefighting skills, showing them that this is something that they too could do,” said the Director of Camp Cinder and Cal Fire SLO Fire Captain Eva Grady.

The camp, which is led by female firefighters, and created for girls interested in the field, was developed by Cal Fire Fire Captain April Mangles. With fundraising and a team of local firefighters, Mangles put on the first Camp Cinder in both 2014 and 2015. The camp, which was supposed to take place in 2020, has officially made its return after a seven-year hiatus.


“This is the first year Cal Fire has adopted the program and sponsored it,” added Grady.

The girls learned about things like structure fires, personal protective equipment, ladders, handling fire hoses, and the tools used while fighting woodland and structural fires. The campers also learned about surf rescue, helicopter rescue, and extracting people out of automobiles.

The female instructors for Camp Cinder came from all over California, while the campers came to San Luis Obispo County from Southern California. Another sector of Camp Cinder takes place up in Shasta and caters to the teenage girls interested in firefighting in the Northern half of California.

“I have to brag about my staff because they are incredible firefighters from all over the place,” Grady said. “This is the first time that we’ve come together. Just being around such a diverse group of women in the fire service has been amazing. And the campers are pretty cool too. They are great.”

Camp Cinder and the female firefighters behind it are already making plans to host the camp again next year. They also hope they will be able to expand the activities that campers will be able to participate in.

“What’s really fun is, the staff, it’s something that we all wish we had when we were young ladies trying to figure out what we were going to do with our lives. There’s such a time investment to even get to where you can apply for a job in firefighting. It takes a lot, and this gives girls a little taste of it and a little confidence that ‘hey, you have a place in the fire services too,'” concluded Grady.