SPFR Work Experience Program paused for 2021

 | January 25, 2021

Community volunteers still welcome

L-R: Mike Piasecki, James Stanley, Ivan Hoffmann and Ross Evens (not pictured) made up the SPFR WEP class of 2020. Photo supplied

Sun Peaks Fire Rescue (SPFR) has decided to pause the annual Work Experience Program (WEP) for 2021. 

The program usually welcomes four budding firefighters to the community each summer from May to October for training and hands-on experience. In exchange they help the department with tasks like inspections, weekly training nights, equipment checks and responding to calls. 

SPFR chief Dean Schiavon said the decision came after reflecting on how the program went in 2020. He explained that the pandemic made it difficult for the group to complete training and licensing for medical and driving courses and a sharp decrease in call numbers (down 44 per cent from 2019) gave the crew less of the hands-on experience they were looking for. 

“There were some definite setbacks,” Schiavon said. “And because of our limited call volume the work experience crew didn’t actually get that much experience. 

“With all the uncertainty surrounding COVID we don’t want to have these sorts of setbacks happen again.” 

He explained that SPFR will take this year to focus even more resources on their current career and volunteer members. 

“We thought this is a good opportunity for us to put more back into our volunteers and get our volunteers trained up because we do have a very young crew right now and we want to get them up to a level where they are well trained and this is the perfect time to do it.”

Schiavon added it will also be a chance for them to review how they run the WEP (which has operated in Sun Peaks since 2007) and update it for the following years. 

“We want to make sure that we’re still staying current and not missing out on an opportunity so we’re taking 2021 to reevaluate our work experience program and look at ways that we can improve it moving forward.”

In the meantime, Schiavon said they will still be recruiting volunteers from the community this year and those interested can contact SPFR.