Sacramento Women's Conference Draws Record Attendance - 2006

On the job, firefighters are trained to break down any walls, structures or barriers that keep them from saving lives of those in harm's way.

Few understand more about breaking down barriers than the more than 200 women who attended the Women Building and Protecting California conference in Sacramento.

Co-sponsored by California Professional Firefighters and the State Building and Construction Trades, the fifth annual conference set record attendance this summer in downtown Sacramento. The mission behind the conference is to strengthen the efforts to recruit and to retain women in to the building trades and the fire service.

More than 200 female firefighters, carpenters, electricians, and pipe fitters gathered together to celebrate the women’s role in the labor movement and the accomplishments that they have made with their respective professions. Nearly 70 female firefighters from throughout California attended -- more than double the attendance from just one year ago.

The California Fire Fighter Joint Apprenticeship Committee (CFFJAC) was also on site during the Conference to showcase their Candidate Physical Ability Test (CPAT) and to introduce the members of its Commission to Recruit Women for the Fire Service.

The Commission, comprised of nearly 12 high-ranking women firefighters from throughout California, was established by the CFFJAC last year in an effort to boost interest and to educate high school and college aged women on how to become a part of the firefighting profession.

Contra Costa County Fire Captain Lisa Beaty, who spoke during the Conference, co-chairs the committee with Davis Fire Captain Emily Lo.

“Growing up, I wanted to do many things,” said Beaty. “Becoming a firefighter wasn’t one of them. Not one of the women (on our Women’s Commission) wanted to become a firefighter when they were young. It’s not that we thought it was a bad profession. We just didn’t think it was an option for us.”

The theme of this year’s Conference reflected the advances and accomplishments that women have garnered over the last 30 years. Beginning their careers in the trades and in the fire service back in the 1970’s, many of these women have reached the age of retirement and are now passing on the torch to a new generation.

“I look forward to a time when a generation of young women can say, ‘I want to be a firefighter ... and I want to do it because my grandmother, or my mother, or my aunt was one’,” said Beaty.

During the Conference, the CFFJAC’s Women Commission hosted two workshops: “Preparing for Outreach Success”, and “Wellness/Fitness CPAT Testing” – which were both met with great participation and feedback.

The "Women Building California" conference was conceived five years ago by the Building and Construction Trades to address the challenges and triumphs of women working in these non-traditional roles. Reflecting the changes in our own profession, CPF joined the conference three years ago, making it "Women Building and Protecting California."

“I have a daughter, who just graduated from high school," CPF President Lou Paulson said during his remarks at the conference opening session. "Because of what you have done, my daughter has the opportunity to look at every possibility. Thank you for what you have done for all of us, and for myself, thank you what you have done for my daughter and for young women everywhere.”