Some former Vernon students have been getting a first hand education on the fire lines this summer.
Dakota Becker and Braeden Barnard — formerly of Vernon Secondary School — have been training as members of the BC Wildfire Service’s Junior Fire Crew
Over 140 students from School District 22 applied for 10 positions, where they would participate in approximately eight weeks of training,” says Maritza Reilly, Communications Coordinator with the School District. “In May, the 10 students started their training which included getting familiar with hose lays, setting up pumps, digging guards and getting the S-100 and S-185 certifications, Safety and Fire Entrapment Avoidance, including helicopter safety and much more.”
Becker and Barnard were selected in June from the 10 students to continue working with Wildfire Services on the Fire Stalkers Unit Crew and Vernon Initial Attack crews over the summer.
Over the last month and a half, the two have been at the Vernon base of the Kamloops Fire Centre for one of the busiest fire seasons in BC history.
“It’s been hard. I’ve been gone for two weeks at a time, living in a tent, at fire camp, but this has been an amazing opportunity,” said Dakota Becker. “We spent a lot of time training and getting ready for the season. It’s the hardest I have ever worked, but I love every minute of it. I really encourage any student to get involved this great program.
Becker says his favorite experiences have been the heli-rides, saving baby eagles from a burning tree in the Kamloops fire earlier this season, and the group mentality that “you’re all going through hell but somehow everyone finds a way to stay positive and push each other through.”
“No one is alone in this battle against the fires,” he says.
The two former high school students will continue with BC Fire Services until the end of September, and then Becker will take a much deserved break.
“I plan to play hockey over the fall and winter,” says Becker. “But I am eagerly awaiting bootcamp next spring and can’t wait to fight fires again next summer.
Photo courtesy of School District 22