SANTA CLARA (KPIX) — A viral photo of all-women firefighting crew is helping motivate a new generation of girls to believe they can also attain their dreams.
The Mountain View Fire Department is making history by allowing three women to work together for the first time ever.
A few weeks ago, Capt. Jenna Graham saw her name on the schedule with her long-time colleagues Alison Costello and Patty Juergens and thought it was too good to be true.
“I thought, there’s no way this is going to stay like this. But it did!” said Graham. “It just feels wonderful for us. We’re used to operating with anyone and everyone in the department.”
It was the first time in the history of the department that there’s been a three-woman crew. Graham said she just had to document it and sent a picture to her chief.
“He’s the one that put it on Facebook and he’s kind of the king of Facebook, said Graham.
The simple photo of three women at work got the attention of thousands, and made other female firefighters in the Bay Area proud to know them.
“You’re an all-women crew, people notice it, they speak to it,” said Santa Clara Fire Capt. Jenn Panko. “It’s just setting an example for them that women can do this job and that you can have an entire company of women performing to the same levels, if not exceeding the levels of the male companies.”
Only four percent of firefighters across the country are women. These women say early outreach is key to inspiring the next generation of female firefighters. That’s why for the second year in a row, female firefighters from around the Bay Area and West Coast are hosting the NorCal First Alarm Girls Fire Camp.
The all-girls fire service camp is staffed entirely by female firefighters from various parts of the country, including Texas and Alaska.
“When you plant a seed early and start to water that and give it a little bit of sunshine, then it can grow,” said Graham.
“After experiencing our girl’s fire camp, no matter what these young women decide to do for a career, they will leave our camp knowing that they can do a lot more and having the confidence they can do a lot more than they came in knowing that they could,” said Panko.