Firefighters often put their lives on the line in service to their community.
But excellent training not only results in better fire suppression, it can reduce the risks and save lives.
Columbia Shuswap Regional District’s Team Leader Protective Services Derek Sutherland received board approval for a new full-time assistant fire chief – training position.
Prior to this, Sutherland and Deputy Regional Fire Chief Sean Coubrough have been responsible for training the regional district’s 300 firefighters serving 13 fire departments.
“I looked at what other regional districts were doing and what we were doing and discovered we are grossly understaffed,” Sutherland said, pointing out he and Coubrough have several initiatives they want to do that will further support departments and firefighters but didn’t have the capacity. “The amount of overtime Sean and I have been doing is pretty extensive.”
The new assistant regional fire chief will be responsible for organizing the regional training program, which Sutherland and Coubrough will continue to deliver.
While firefighters receive training at their individual fire departments, new recruits will now be brought into a regional orientation program and learn basic skills at the Shuswap Regional Fire Training Centre in Salmon Arm. Following basic skills, firefighters will return to their own halls, where they’ll be integrated into more advanced training, Sutherland says.
“We’re looking at doing some additional training and offering additional support to fire training officers by providing sample training plans and other materials to make their jobs easier at their fire halls,” Sutherland says. “And we’re developing a committee of fire training officers to share ideas and provide input into the regional training program.”
Sutherland says the hiring process is expected to begin early this month and he is fully expecting to see internal applicants.