Five hundred women from across the country and around the world will convene in two weeks to promote their commitment to the fire services.
Women in the Fire Service, Inc. (WFSI) will hold its 11th annual International Conference of Fire Service Women on March 29-April 3, 2005 at the Marriott Bethesda North Hotel and Conference Center in Bethesda, Maryland. The conference focuses on helping women further their fire service education in an all-inclusive environment.
The theme of this year's conference is "Courage and Commitment: A Capital Experience." The theme was chosen to "take advantage of Bethesda's proximity to Washington, D.C., the most powerful city in the United States," according to Maureen McFadden, Public Information Officer for the conference. "Holding the convention near Washington, D.C. will hopefully increase the visibility of women in the fire services to government agencies and federal policy makers," McFadden said.
The six-day conference will include a wide range of activities including seminars for fighting strip mall fires and animal rescue, to hands-on sessions at local training centers. Many of the seminars are geared toward women but men are welcome as well. Dorcus Howard, Chairperson of the Host Conference Committee and Lieutenant with Montgomery County Maryland Fire and Rescue, wants men to attend for the same reasons as women.
"Men should come to the conference if they have a desire to improve the fire services," she said. "This as an opportunity for them to watch women and how they relate to each other and they should also hear some of the success stories and concerns of women in their industry."
Highlights of the conference include a Capitol Hill reception with Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) and Susan Collins (R-ME) and a Fire Recruitment Expo on Saturday, April 2. The conference wraps up every year with an all-women excursion that takes the women out of the conference environment and lets them bond in an outdoors experience. This year the attendees have the option to venture through the western Maryland panhandle and partake in activities such as hiking and mountain biking.