Over the weekend, the Berkeley Fire Department invited 28 local female college athletes to the Cedar Street station in northwest Berkeley for a chance to don 75-pound uniforms, hoist four-story ladders, squirt giant hoses and practice their chainsaw skills. The event, dubbed Ignite Academy, was an effort to attract more women to a profession where they’ve historically been underrepresented. Athletes, organizers hoped, would be a natural fit for a job so physically demanding.

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