My name is Christina Terrazas and I am an engineer with the city of Pasadena fire department.
Pasadena Now; Tell me about yourself, you’ve been in the department for 18 years. Tell me about your job. What do you do day to day?
I have been there for a little over 18 years. I originally started when I was in high school. I lived in Ventura County and I was an explorer or cadet up in Ventura. It was a high school program, which Pasadena actually has an Explorer post-program and we would like to hopefully transition some of these girls into that program as well. It’s a career builder for you. It looks great on a resume and it starts to develop the mental capacity of what it entails on a daily basis to perform the job. It’s a certain kind of lifestyle when you do emergency services. So you have an understanding of what you’re getting yourself into. I was very passionate about the career and I continued to pursue it.
So do you climb up the ladder and carry people out of burning buildings as well?
Yes, we do. We are all firefighters. We are all required to pass the same level of requirements fitness-wise as well as, all of our education and training. And we are held to the same standard that the men are held to.
Tell me about the program. What is it exactly?
So we are doing our first girl’s camp of March 14th, 2020, which is a one day girls camp. That will be 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. We’re having girls from ages 14 to 18 apply and we will probably be taking about 16 to 20 of them as the first group. We currently have eight female firefighters in the city of Pasadena. And so our goal is, is to introduce the fire service through techniques and equipment that we currently use for firefighting and EMS on the job and do side by side with young girls to give them a positive experience build their confidence, mentor them and give them, an insight on what it takes to be a female firefighter.
How long has the camp been in existence? How long have you guys done this?
This is is the first one. We have not had one, specifically within our department, and it’s something that we noticed that we need. I’ve been with the city for a little over 18 years and we have some other females that have been there for about 15 years or more. And then there’s a big gap. Two current females that we have, have about a year or less on. So there’s been a gap where we haven’t captured a lot of females coming into the fire service and we’re looking to plant the seed in younger girls minds. Hopefully some of them can become 30-year career firefighters. And to do that, the high school level is really where you need to start introducing them into the field because it’s very competitive and there’s a lot of things that they could do in high school to start career tracking.
I would imagine fitness is a huge part of it.
It’s a huge part of it. But because a lot of women are intimidated I think by just the job in general and the way it’s portrayed or what they think. It’s very strenuous, but girls are very strong. And I think that we’re in a time where we have females in the fire service. They’ve been around since the 70s, and those are our trailblazers, but they’re still wasn’t a great number of them. We’re still a very low percentage. There’s only about 3 percent female firefighters nationwide in general. So we’re fortunate enough that we have eight women in our department.
I drive a fire engine on every emergency call. I work at Fire Station 37. We do a 48-hour shift, so I go to work for two days and then we have four days off. We also have a water tender out of that station, which I’m qualified to drive, which is basically a fire pump apparatus that has over 2000 gallons of water on it. So I drive that piece of apparatus and I’m also qualified to drive the ladder trucks in the city of Pasadena. All of our engineers are qualified to drive our ladder trucks and our engine. And I had to get a class B driver’s license for that.