Fire recruits blaze through training

Sun Peaks Fire Rescue’s five new recruits from left to right Alex Prins, Shaun Pettit, Patrick Nasilowski, Brendan Wanner, Campbell Bryk Photo submitted.

Five new volunteers with Sun Peaks Fire Rescue (SPFR) are well on their way to becoming the community’s newest emergency responders.

The local recruits were selected from a pool of applicants at the start of the year and began training with the fire department in early February.

The in-house training follows an updated curriculum set by the Justice Institute of British Columbia. The new and improved program is helping streamline firefighter training and is keeping SPFR’s training officer, Captain Joss Advocaat, busy.

He said he envisions the new recruits will be able to respond to emergencies by late August.

“It’s fantastic how much we have learned already,” said new recruit, Alex Prins.

Fellow recruit, Shaun Pettit, agreed.

“I’ve been so impressed with the program so far. It has been extremely organised and well run with clear and achievable goals set out each session,” he said.

Already the group has covered the use of personal protective equipment and breathing apparatus, concepts of fire safety, as well as medical responding, which forms a large component of SPFR’s mandate in Sun Peaks.

“We have learned lots about what our roles are and where we fall in the network of first responders and emergency care providers,” said new recruit Campbell Bryk.

For Brendan Wanner, a highlight has been the practical component: “As recruits we have been able to get hands on with some great equipment.”

This practical element is set to increase with warmer weather facilitating more outdoor training. The recruits are yet to cover working with hoses, ladders and small hand tools, fire behaviour theory, vehicle extrication and more, according to Advocaat.

Recruit training doesn’t finish with these “basics of emergency response” though, he added.

“Once (the recruits) graduate from the exterior firefighter program, they are enrolled in the interior program where they learn skills specific to fighting interior structure fires.”

After that, there is the plethora of course material available to fully qualified firefighters.

“You never stop learning in the fire service,” said Advocaat.

The recruits all now call Sun Peaks home, but originally hail from as far afield as England, Toronto and Victoria.