SJFD ‘boot camp’ hopes to recruit more women firefighters

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

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SAN JOSE, Calif.San Jose firefighter Stephanine Crini polished a fire truck at Fire Station 14 in West San Jose on Thursday, where she serves, metaphorically, as an island in a sea of men. She joined the department over a decade ago, as a wide-eyed teenager, drawn to this type of work.

“I had no idea what the job entailed. One of my friends had mentioned that there’s an explorer program and I decided to join that, and it became something that I’m very passionate about,” she said.

The San Jose Fire Department hopes to spark a similar passion in others when, on Saturday, it hosts its fifth annual Women’s Boot Camp. The one-day event is open to women, including those non-binary, gender-non-conforming, and trans women in the community.

“The greater the diversity, the better the department. You know, it’s like the high-tech industry understands that, and I’m so happy the government is really beginning to get into it,” said Gabrielle Antolovich, board president of the Billy DeFrank LGBTQ+ Community Center in San Jose.

Seventy-five women, ages 18-to-24 have already signed up. Officials say that represents an increase of 1/3 over last year. Attendees will be put through the rigors of an academy-like obstacle course, to better learn what it’s like to be a firefighter.

“We have our sledgehammers. We have our hose pull hoists. Working on grip and strength, and just kind of giving women that encouragement that they can do it,” said Crini.

San Jose fire isn’t alone in looking to lure more women into its workforce. In March, San Jose police officials signed the 30 x 30 Pledge.

“…To increase women recruits by 30-percent by 2030,” then-Chief Anthony Mata said March 7.

Policewomen currently make up 13% of the force. But only 3.7% of the 648 firefighters are female.

“One of the things I’m very interested in is trying to bring talent to the city of San Jose,” said San Jose Vice Mayor Rosemary Kamei, who also signed the 30 x 30 Pledge two months ago. “I think we bring sort of a different perspective on different situations. And it would really enhance the departments.”

Stephani Crini said living her dream has allowed her to help other women explore options once only thought of as a man’s domain.

“Being a female out in the community and being on calls whether we have schools come in and being that female figure and showing all ages we are out there, and we can do it,” Crini said.

The SJFD Boot Camp takes place at 9 a.m., May 18, at the department’s Training Center at 1591 Senter Road.

Jesse Gary is a reporter based in the station’s South Bay bureau. Follow him on the X Platform (formerly Twitter), @JesseKTVU2 and on Instagram, @jessegontv

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.