Kids can be heroes too!

Vaughan’s new firefighter summer camps train children for a career in fire service

“Firefighters run into a burning building when everyone else is running out.” This common saying is proof that firefighters are human heroes – with superhuman strength. This summer, Vaughan youth can experience what it takes to be a hero at the City’s first-ever Junior Firefighter and Female Firefighter summer camps, run by the men and women of Vaughan Fire and Rescue Services (VFRS) in partnership with Recreation Services.

Youth will receive fire safety training in a safe, controlled, educational and fun way. Wearing personal protective equipment, they’ll run-through various aspects of a firefighter’s daily routine, including:

  • fire truck inspection
  • using a fire extinguisher
  • hoseline and fireground operations
  • climbing ground and aerial ladders
  • vehicle extrication
  • smoke alarms and home escape planning
  • search and rescue techniques (including rope rescues)
  • CPR and first aid
  • physical fitness training

Junior Firefighter Camp, offered at Al Palladini and Garnet A. Williams community centres, provides youth aged 12-14 years with a basic introduction to the life of a firefighter, courtesy daily visits by VFRS, plus traditional camp games, sports and recreational swimming. One full-day session is held at the Vaughan Fire Training Centre, with possible trips to local fire stations. The camps start July 4 and 10, respectively.

Female Firefighter Camp for young women aged 15-18 years, offers more advanced exposure and post-secondary preparation to emergency services. Located at the Vaughan Fire Training Centre, this specialty camp offers young females a supportive, non-threatening space where they’re not as concerned with failing, suggests VFRS Deputy Fire Chief, Deryn Rizzi. The goal of the camp is to spark an interest in firefighting among teenage girls, showing them that it is a viable, rewarding career option in a historically male-dominated field. (The City of Vaughan is a leader in this regard, with one of the highest female firefighters per capita in North America.) The camp starts July 17.

Both camps aim to build determination and leadership, and simply encourage youth to be the best they can be. Who should join or consider a career in fire service? “Anyone who is a contributing member of a team, enjoys physical fitness, leadership and a challenge,” says Deputy Rizzi.

“I don’t look at this as a gender-based job…at the end of the day, it’s someone in bunker gear with a helmet on and breathing apparatus. It doesn’t matter who it is. It’s a person who is willing to put their life on the line for your life,” says Deputy Rizzi.

VFRS encourages a diverse applicant pool and looks for the best candidate regardless of gender. Their next recruitment is this spring.

Recreation Services strives to provide high-quality recreation programs that encourage positive lifestyle choices, particularly among impressionable groups such as children and youth. The award-winning Vaughan summer camps brand includes more than 60 programs for 4-16 year olds. From just about any sport (including horseback riding and lifesaving!) to painting, dancing, cooking, wilderness training, and caring for rescues at an animal sanctuary, kids can do anything and everything at Vaughan summer camps. Busing, extended care and one-on-one support for children with special needs is available, as well as subsidy for low-income families.

For camp details, check out the 2017 Spring and Summer Recreation Vaughan eGuide or pick up a 2017 Summer Camps brochure at your local community centre. Registration starts on Feb. 22 and 23, depending on the location. Register at or call 905-832-8500.

Andrea Gyarmati
Recreation Services, City of Vaughan

Visit the City of Vaughan’s website at

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