Camp aims to recruit young firefighters while honoring junior member

BOWERS — To honor a late junior firefighter while cultivating new prospects at the same time, Camp Bruiser is coming this summer.

The fire camp’s two August sessions are designed to educate and interest 13- to 17-year-olds in community firefighting and lifesaving, and salute the memory of Brittney “Bruiser” Ford a Bowers Volunteer Fire Company Station 40 junior member who died Dec. 5, 2014, two days after being struck by a vehicle.

An introductory fire camp for youth will be held in August at Bowers Volunteer Fire Company Station 40 to honor late junior firefighter Brittney “Bruiser” Ford. (Submitted)

An introductory fire camp for youth will be held in August at Bowers Volunteer Fire Company Station 40 to honor late junior firefighter Brittney “Bruiser” Ford. (Submitted)

Camp organizers — Ms. Ford’s family and friends — hope it sparks young people’s interest in firefighting to counter dropping volunteerism among local companies.

The free camp has sessions on Aug. 15-16 and Aug. 22-23 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Bowers fire hall at 3285 Main St.

Ms. Ford’s mother Laura Mallow said she hatched the idea, announced it on Facebook less than a month ago and filled 40 slots with kids from Kent, Sussex and New Castle counties “in no time.”

“I was looking for a way to honor Brittney and it took awhile because it had to be something special because she was special,” said Ms. Mallow, a Bowers fire member and career emergency medical technician.

“This is a way to honor her memory and possibly be a tool for fire companies to get this out there and hopefully get more 13- to 17-year-olds to become junior firefighters who join as regular members in a couple years.”

Now, the Brittney Lynn Ford Foundation is looking for 40 more interested kids to join up.

Organizers also are open to any other interested fire companies participating in some way.

“We don’t want to turn anyone away,” Ms. Mallow said of the enrollment limits.

The Camp Bruiser name evolved from Ms. Ford’s nickname earned at age 3 or so when she fell face first off a chair and immediately rose off the floor without even a whimper, Ms. Mallow said.

“She was always tough,” Ms. Mallow said. “Firefighting is a tough job; you have to be tough physically and mentally.”

The session will center on introduction to firefighting and emergency medical services, including CPR training and certification, hands-on experience with hoses, moving through a smoke-filled structure and obstacle course and demonstrations on vehicle and water rescues by trained personnel.

An informational session will be held in July on a date to be announced, and parents will be required to fill out emergency medical forms at the time.

There are plans to make Camp Bruiser an overnight event in 2016, Ms. Mallow said.

“We want this to get bigger and bigger each year,” she said.

For more information, contact Ms. Mallow at lauriemallow@gmail.com or call (302) 423-5928.

More information is available on Facebook through the Brittney Lynn Ford Memory Page and Camp Bruiser.

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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