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Harris County Fire Department to Host Katy’s First All-Girls Firefighter and EMS Summer Camp


April 20, 2022

By Natalie Cook Clark

Harris County ESD No. 48 Fire-EMS (HCESD48) will host Camp Spark this summer, Katy’s first all-girls firefighter and EMS camp. The camp will be free and designed to educate and inspire a new generation of female first responders.

Photo courtesy of HCESD48

Camp Spark is Katy's First of its Kind Summer Camp

Camp Spark will be Katy’s first female firefighter/EMS camp. The free camp will educate and inspire a new generation of young women.

Camp Hopes to Inspire Future Female Firefighters/EMS

When at a Community Risk Reduction conference, Jason Tharp HCESD48 Battalion Chief of Community Risk Reduction and Public Information Officer heard another department mention that they had done an all-girls camp. He was immediately intrigued by the idea and started to think how his department could introduce the Katy area to such a camp.

“We see a lot of young boys that want to be firefighters, police, and professional sports players. They often dress up for Halloween and play in the costume until it no longer fits, I know my boys did, but what about our young ladies?” says Tharp.

“What if we can not only inspire young ladies to consider the fire and EMS service as a career, but also learn some community risk reduction messages like bleeding control, CPR/AED, and fire safety,” says Tharp.

Camp Spark will be Free

Camp Spark will be held June 14-16 and available for girls from age 14-18 years old. The camp will be free of charge thanks to a generous sponsorship by Toyota of Katy.

Camp Spark participants will take part in a fun-filled three-day camp of physical training, classes and Fire/EMS simulations. They will also have the chance to ask questions, train, and interact with female firefighters and medics from HCESD48 and other Great Houston Area departments.

"I’m excited to show young girls that they can do this type of work and be successful at it,” says EMS Supervisor, Battalion Chief Tricia Vasquez. “When I was in Junior College I remember wanting to be a Paramedic and several people I looked up to told me, said it’s too dangerous or you’re too young or you’re not as strong as the guys. I want to teach these young ladies that we are strong enough and can make an impact in Fire and EMS. We are worthy and this is truly the greatest job in the world."

EMT Kerry Haynes is also excited about the camp and the opportunity to show young ladies how rewarding this career can be.

“Having the opportunity to learn firefighting and medical skills from other females who have made this their career will give them the confidence to become a first responder and show them that the stereotype of this being a man’s job is no longer true," says Haynes.

HCESD48 currently has 5 female firefighters and 21 female EMS members. Tharp says that Camp Spark is not a quick fix for recruitment but a start to inspiring girls to consider a career in this field.

"This is our community and these girls are OUR future,” says EMS Training Captain Marina Rolon. “Surely women in fire/EMS can show these ladies how to break stereotypes in this career field, execute mental toughness, and demonstrate how women stand together in this field. I’m excited to share the importance of paramedicine and the fire service within our community!”

Registration will Open Online First Week of May

Registration for Camp Spark will open the first week of May and spots are limited. Registration will be online.

"My message for future women in the fire service is to never give up,” says Haynes. “Don't put all your focus on your physical strength, because your mental strength is equally important. The phrase many people use is to work smarter, not harder. Women are resilient and creative, and using those qualities you can find a way to accomplish anything - your way."


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