The Sun Peaks Fire Rescue Work Experience Program (WEP) is once again in full swing with five firefighter trainees from around the country calling the Sun Peaks fire hall headquarters until October.
This year marks is seventh year for the WEP initiative at Sun Peaks that takes firefighter trainees from the Justice Institute of B.C. and other institutions across the country and puts them through six months of intense firefighter training.
The goal? To have the trainees land full-time positions as professional firefighters upon completion. The spinoff for the community of Sun Peaks is having five highly trained volunteers on staff during the summer fire season, while the firefighters get high level training in return that bodes well for them as they seek careers in a highly competitive field.
For WEP trainee Stuart MacDonald of Coquitlam, B.C. being a professional firefighter has been a lifelong dream.
“It’s awesome to be training in Sun Peaks and the level of training and experience we’re getting from the captains and the chief here at Sun Peaks is outstanding,” says MacDonald. “I’ve wanted to be a career firefighter since
I was a little kid and I think this program will give me an upper hand when I apply for a full time job as (one).”
While career firefighting has long been viewed as a male dominated career path, the firefighter team at Sun Peaks Fire Rescue has always been more than an equal opportunity employer with six women in blue on the crew.
WEP trainees Heather Paine and Pike Krpan are two of those women paving the road for future professional female firefighters in Canada. Krpan, a Toronto, Ont. native, was inspired to join the WEP by a female friend who’s a Toronto city firefighter. She can’t believe her luck landing at Sun Peaks.
“The training we’ve had at Sun Peaks is amazing and I can’t think of another fire hall anywhere that has these views right out the doors. Foxes running by, the mountains and so far the people in community have been really great,” Krpan says.
For Port Coquitlam’s Paine, the WEP at Sun Peaks is a step above with regard to training toward her career goal and she feels right at home with the boys.
“I was a motorcycle machinist before this so I’ve worked in male dominated field, but this training certainly trains you to live and work as a tight knit family and that seems to be more of what being a professional firefighter is all about, living and working together as a unit,” explains Paine. “It’s really been an exciting experience so far at Sun Peaks; they really power you through the courses and the training and show you how to work in the community. I found out about it through fellow firefighters trying to get hired and they said that if I wanted to be a firefighter I should try to get hired on at a WEP like Sun Peaks, so here I am and so far it has been fantastic.”
For more on Sun Peaks Fire Rescue visit: sunpeaksfirerescue.com