Colleton County Fire-Rescue


The following article appeared in the Press and Standard Newspaper, 6-August-2013





Victoria Dalton spent last week fully involved. The 16-year-old Walterboro resident spent last week in New Hampshire participating in an all-female fire training class at the New Hampshire Fire Academy. The week-long program, called Camp Fully Involved, brought together females between the ages of 14 and 20 for intensive firefighter training. They learned to use self-contained breathing apparatus, how to move hose lines, how to extricate victims from a vehicle that has caught fire and how to rappel down a four-story building. They learned how wildfires develop, how to vent roofs, how to attack a fire from an aerial platform, ground survival skills and how to attack fires as a team. The week concluded with a live fire exercise at the Nashua Fire and Rescue training site.


Their instructors are professional firefighters, men and women who volunteer their time to assist with the camp held once a year. “It was kind of nerve wracking putting on the self-contained breathing apparatus,” Victoria said.

A lot of the classes at the camp were similar to the training she has undergone as a member of the Colleton County Fire-Rescue’s Explorer Post, but the training was at a much higher level. “I didn’t realize it was going to be so much hard work,” she said. Colleton County Fire-Rescue Battalion Chief Brent Dalton said he was also surprised at the level of training his daughter and the other women received during the week. Dalton suggested Victoria and the other young firefighters were doing things many adults could not handle. “It blew me away,” he said.


Victoria’s grandparents, who live in New Hampshire, had told her about Camp Fully Involved and she was instantly interested. Victoria joined the Colleton County Fire-Rescue’s Explorer Troop when she was 14 years old but had to wait until she was 16 years old to apply to the New Hampshire camp. It is not easy to get into the camp. As part of the application process, Victoria had to write a 500-word essay on why she wanted to become a firefighter-paramedic. Only 25 females were selected to attend the intensive training session. Victoria received a scholarship to defray the cost of attending. She was the first participant to be awarded a scholarship established in honor of a member of a New Hampshire Explorer Post who was killed while riding his bike to a fire call. (Explorer Ralph Russo of the West Haven Fire Dept) Although he had no reservations about his daughter attending the training program, Dalton said, like any parent, he had concerns. His concerns were eased because of his familiarity with the New Hampshire Fire Academy. When he was re-entering firefighting, he received his training at the same facility and had many of the same instructors who were schooling his daughter. And the whole time, he added, there was “pride that she was following in her dad’s footsteps.”


Last week gave Victoria an even greater understanding of what her dad does for a living. That experience has her thinking harder about whether to go into the firefighting or not. But she still expects that ultimately the fire service will be her career choice.