Christina Kirk can take the heat. But it’s a passion for service, not a reckless desire for danger, that has the Lugoff-Elgin High School sophomore considering a career as a firefighter.
Kirk is a member of the Lugoff Fire Department Explorer Post, which exposes young people between ages 14-18 to the job of firefighters. She recently attended Camp Fully Involved, a national firefighter training camp in Concord, N.H. The camp provides physically challenging, aggressive, hands-on summer training for young women between ages 14-20 who are interested in exploring a firefighting career. The intent is to help them gain strength and knowledge while building confidence and leadership skills.
Kirk was one of 25 young women selected from across the country for the camp. During the week, she participated in various activities including vehicle and dumpster fires, rappelling off buildings, air pack drills, room and content structural fires, engine and ladder truck operations, forcible entry and ventilation.
Kirk spoke recently about her passion for firefighting and her experiences at the camp.
How did you come about your interest in firefighting? Is this something you hope to do professionally one day?
“My brother started out as an Explorer. Then he became a firefighter after high school. This is what I want to do.”
What were some of the most challenging aspects of the recent training camp?
“It was a full week of hands-on training and classes at night. This camp has made me more confident and made me know now more than ever this is what I want to do as a career.”
There is a high level of risk in this job. How does that reality play in your mind as you pursue this career?
“There are serious risks, but I want to be able to help people, so you put others ahead of yourself”
What has been the general reaction from your family and friends about the potential danger?
“My family understands the risk, but they know how much I love it. They are very proud of me and what I have accomplished.”
Are you finding that a growing number of young women like yourself are showing a greater interest in this line of service?
“It is growing, but very slowly.”
What are your personal impressions about the sacrifices of the nation’s firefighters and other first responders?
“I see the danger they face on a daily basis. They put others ahead of themselves, and they are a very special group of people.”
And how have your experiences with the Explorers boosted your own confidence?
“Everybody at the Fire Department has helped me get where I am today. They support me and have made me see that I can do anything I set my mind to do.”
What is the one thing that everyday people should know about fire safety?
“It’s nothing that should be taken lightly. Always be very cautious.”
Reach Rantin at (803) 771-8306.