GREENVILLE

For ‘sisters,’ learning in line of fire

Camp Fully Involved: Greenville teen pushes herself through intense firefighting program

  • Krystal Clark, 16, of Greenville, attended a week-long camp in Concord which trains women aged 14 to 20 to become firefighters. <br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • Krystal Clark, 16, of Greenville, attended a week-long camp in Concord which trains women aged 14 to 20 to become firefighters. <br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • Krystal Clark, 16, of Greenville, attended a week-long camp in Concord which trains women aged 14 to 20 to become firefighters. <br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • Krystal Clark, 16, of Greenville, attended a week-long camp in Concord which trains women aged 14 to 20 to become firefighters. <br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • Krystal Clark, 16, of Greenville, attended a week-long camp in Concord which trains women aged 14 to 20 to become firefighters. <br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • Krystal Clark, 16, of Greenville, attended a week-long camp in Concord which trains women aged 14 to 20 to become firefighters. <br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • Krystal Clark, 16, of Greenville, attended a week-long camp in Concord which trains women aged 14 to 20 to become firefighters. <br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • Krystal Clark, 16, of Greenville, attended a week-long camp in Concord which trains women aged 14 to 20 to become firefighters. <br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • Krystal Clark, 16, of Greenville, attended a week-long camp in Concord which trains women aged 14 to 20 to become firefighters. <br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • Krystal Clark, 16, of Greenville, attended a week-long camp in Concord which trains women aged 14 to 20 to become firefighters. <br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • Krystal Clark, 16, of Greenville, attended a week-long camp in Concord which trains women aged 14 to 20 to become firefighters. <br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • Krystal Clark, 16, of Greenville, attended a week-long camp in Concord which trains women aged 14 to 20 to become firefighters. <br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • Krystal Clark, 16, of Greenville, attended a week-long camp in Concord which trains women aged 14 to 20 to become firefighters. <br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • Krystal Clark, 16, of Greenville, attended a week-long camp in Concord which trains women aged 14 to 20 to become firefighters. <br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • Krystal Clark, 16, of Greenville, attended a week-long camp in Concord which trains women aged 14 to 20 to become firefighters. <br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • Krystal Clark, 16, of Greenville, attended a week-long camp in Concord which trains women aged 14 to 20 to become firefighters. <br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • Krystal Clark, 16, of Greenville, attended a week-long camp in Concord which trains women aged 14 to 20 to become firefighters. <br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • Krystal Clark, 16, of Greenville, attended a week-long camp in Concord which trains women aged 14 to 20 to become firefighters. <br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • Krystal Clark, 16, of Greenville, attended a week-long camp in Concord which trains women aged 14 to 20 to become firefighters. <br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • Krystal Clark, 16, of Greenville, attended a week-long camp in Concord which trains women aged 14 to 20 to become firefighters. <br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • Krystal Clark, 16, of Greenville, attended a week-long camp in Concord which trains women aged 14 to 20 to become firefighters. <br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • Krystal Clark, 16, of Greenville, attended a week-long camp in Concord which trains women aged 14 to 20 to become firefighters. <br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • Krystal Clark, 16, of Greenville, attended a week-long camp in Concord which trains women aged 14 to 20 to become firefighters. <br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • Krystal Clark, 16, of Greenville, attended a week-long camp in Concord which trains women aged 14 to 20 to become firefighters. <br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • Krystal Clark, 16, of Greenville, attended a week-long camp in Concord which trains women aged 14 to 20 to become firefighters. <br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • Krystal Clark, 16, of Greenville, attended a week-long camp in Concord which trains women aged 14 to 20 to become firefighters. <br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • Krystal Clark, 16, of Greenville, attended a week-long camp in Concord which trains women aged 14 to 20 to become firefighters. <br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

NASHUA — A group of firefighter trainees gather around a building at the Solid Waste Facility in Nashua. Before them, smoke billows out of all corners of a two-story structure. One group of cadets gets ready to enter the ground floor. On the other side, another group readies a ladder to attack the upper story. Covered head to toe with firefighting gear and oxygen masks, the individual cadets and instructors are nearly impossible to tell apart. That is, until they exit the building, with fire extinguished, and start stripping off their gear. All of the cadets are teenagers. And all of them are women.

One of the girls is Krystal Clark, 16, of Greenville. She’s no stranger to the fire services, she said in an phone interview Monday. She’s been fascinated with firefighting since she was in the eighth grade, when she first started learning about the profession through her cousin, a career firefighter in Manchester. She began to get involved with the Explorer program at the Greenville Fire Department. That’s snowballed, and now, she’s involved with fire departments in Temple, New Ipswich, Peterborough and Wilton Ambulance. And she’s completed the Firefighting I certification at Mascenic Regional High School, qualifying her as a Junior Firefighter.

“After I went to a few trainings and saw what firefighters do, other than rescue cats out of trees, I figured, this is cool and challenging and I need that,” said Clark. “I always used to sit around doing nothing, and now I have a busy schedule and I love it.”

Clark wanted to gain more hands-on training, and signed up to be one of 24 teenagers from the United States and Canada to do a week-long training camp for young women. Camp Fully Involved, held at the New Hampshire Fire Academy in Concord, is designed to get more young women involved in fire and EMS careers, said Public Information Officer for the New Hampshire Fire Academy David Danielson in an interview at the cadets final day of camp, where they were attacking a building fire. The teens are split into squads, and the focus is on learning different safety aspects, procedures, and especially working as a unit, said Danielson.

“There’s a brother and sister thing that happens between firefighters that’s hard to describe from the outside,” said Danielson. “But it happens here, and over the course of the week, you’ll hear them start to call each other ‘sister.’”

Though the camp’s focus is on safety, they don’t skimp on the hands-on experience, and over the course of the week, the girls learned to use oxygen equipment, how to move hose lines, how to extricate victims from a vehicle fire, rappel from a four story building, and fight live barrel, car and building fires. On Friday, the group traveled to Nashua to experience a live building fire, just before their graduation ceremony that night.

“It’s a lot different than previous training I’ve had,” said Clark. It wasn’t always easy, either, she said. Repelling in particular made her a little nervous, as she watched her fellow cadets go down the building. But Clark had decided to push herself during the training camp, she said, and after going over the edge of the four-story building for her own repel, she discovered that she actually liked the thrill of it.

“You get the adrenalin rushing through you, and it gets you really pumped. I’m hoping to bring that back to our station when I go back,” said Clark. The camp also gave her a lot more practical training than she’s had before, she said, and that, too, has just made her more excited for fire service. “Now that I have hands-on training, I know how it feels to advance a hose on a car fire, or advance it into a building to put the fire out. It’s made me more eager to get my certifications and do a lot more on-call responses and training.”

Fighting fires is a definite part of her future, said Clark. After graduation, she plans to spend a few years in New York City and become involved with Emergency Medical Services and the fire department there. Eventually, though, she plans to move back to the Monadnock region to settle in with the volunteer squads where she got her start. She plans to go to college for nursing, as well as getting a secondary degree in Fire Science. Ultimately, she said, she just wants to be able to help people.

“I want to be involved in saving people’s lives and being there at people’s worst times and helping them through it,” she said.

For more information about Camp Fully Involved, visit www.campfullyinvolved.com or email info@campfullyinvolved.com.

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 244 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter at @AshleySaari.

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