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Okanagan high school students learning what it takes to become a firefighter

Click to play video: 'Lake Country Fire Dept. hosts junior firefighter bootcamp'
Lake Country Fire Dept. hosts junior firefighter bootcamp
WATCH: A group of Okanagan high school students are being put to the test at the Lake Country Fire Department this week. As Jayden Wasney reports, the annual junior firefighter boot camp offers students a first-hand look into what it takes to become a firefighter. – Mar 21, 2024

Thirteen high school students from across the Okanagan are getting a feel for what it’s like being a firefighter through a week-long junior firefighter bootcamp put on by the Lake Country Fire Department.

“It’s all the same requirements that we ask all of our firefighters to do, and it’s based on a national standard which is your NFPA1001, so they’re training the exact same way as we train our firefighters,” said Lake Country Fire Dept. Deputy Chief Kynan O’Rourke.

“We’re really happy to see them here.”

O’Rourke says the students are taking each challenge in stride, but some of the training has been easier said than done.

“They (the firefighters) did a little demonstration before and they made it look like it was nothing, and then we gave it a go and it took us a while,” said student Wyatt Mackill.

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“There’s so much happening but it’s really exciting.”

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Everyone enrolled in the camp will finish the week with a certificate in first aid, and while the goal of the program is to provide these kids with life-long skills and lessons, it’s also a great opportunity for the fire department to get a head start on recruitment.

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“The only requirement we ask is that you have to be 19, so our students are going to go away with some great skills, and hopefully we get them coming back when they’re 19 and they can apply in and definitely have that on their resume,” said O’Rourke.

“We’re a paid, on-call fire department, and we have a reoccurring recruit class that we need to fill up.”

These students still have a few more years to go before they can apply, but some say they’re seriously considering it.

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“I really take away what it’s really like to be a firefighter, if this would be a possible job opportunity for me, what are some of the benefits, the risks,” explains student Gavin Lesage.”

“I could definitely see myself doing this as a part-time gig.”

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This November, Megan Forrest will be going to school to become a paramedic. She says the camp is the perfect way to get prepared for her career.

“We had to go on air and climb a bunch of stairs, and that was kind of hard, but I really liked it because it shows you how physical the job is and how fit you have to stay,” said student Megan Forrest.

Getting hands-on experience is one of the things she’s happy to be taking away, but she adds she’s even more grateful for something that she wasn’t expecting — making new friends.

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“I feel like a lot of people are coming a lot closer, because I’m with people I’ve never met before and I have a really good friend here that I just made, so I feel like we’re going to be talking lots after this,” said Forrest.

The camps wrap up on Friday, as the students are set to receive their certificates and take home some memories they likely won’t soon forget.

“If they’re doing this again next year and the years to follow, I’m getting as many people as I can because this is a great place to be and everyone is so happy,” said Mackill.

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