DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — A Miami Valley fire department is confronting gender stereotypes to encourage more women to see the fire service as a career option.

Roughly 4 percent of U.S. firefighters are women. Some people say the low percentage is due to the physical demands that the job requires, but Dayton fire is working to change that.

“It’s very tough. I have an all-new appreciation for firefighters. It’s not an easy job, but as a woman, I can do this and other women can do this too,” said Racheal Rowlett, a fire camp participant.

Dayton Fire Department’s efforts to recruit more women include the 2021 Dayton Fire Camp for Women. Organizers said the goal was to empower women to believe they can achieve any goal, career or dream they desire. On Saturday, about a dozen participants completed several safe training activities that simulate the challenges of real-world firefighting while wearing firefighter protective gear.

The all-day event opened to women, ages 16-41 years old to spark interest in the Dayton Fire Department through an intense day of teamwork and confidence building. Despite a push for diversity, out of 300 employees at Dayton Fire, only 32 are women.

“We have 23 EMS personnel, and nine female firefighters,” Capt. Marshall said. “It’s sad, but at the same time, I know there are women out there who want to do this, they just haven’t had the opportunity to try it.”

Through this event Capt. Marshall hopes to lift more women up the ladder by giving them a chance to see female firefighters in action.

Another participant Ansley Littlejohn said, “I was in the firefighter’s intro class at my high school, and it just clicked one day. I was like ‘wow this is really cool.’ So I don’t want to do a desk job I want to do this.”

Applications for Dayton Fire Academy will be accepted beginning on January 4, 2022  for a civil service exam in the spring. Anyone interested in becoming a firefighter should apply on the city’s employment website.