On February 18th, the local Forest Fire Initial Attack crew visited the Portage Keremeos rehabilitation centre to give a presentation to the residents about forest fire safety and to explain their role in the community. The residents were fascinated by their stories of managing blazes from helicopters, and engaged in a very drawn out question-and-answer period. The visitors were so impressed by the residents that they offered to come back to the centre and provide a training course to the adolescents.
From March 23rd to 25th, the Forest Fire Initial Attack crew provided all residents and staff members with a hands-on S100 Basic Firefighting course. The residents were enthralled by the course, which consisted of two days in the classroom and one day of field training and controlled burning. They greatly enjoyed learning various fire suppression techniques as well as how to operate pumps and hoses.
At the end of the training, participants wrote an exam and then received a certificate, which they can add to their resume and which will allow them to apply for a job or to volunteer in any summer forest fire crew in the province of BC.
This was a tremendous learning experience for the adolescents at the Portage Keremeos centre. It not only gave them an opportunity to expand their skills and put the competencies they are learning at Portage into practice, but it also gave them a sense of how good it feels to give back to the community.