When asked, many firefighters will say they got into it because of a desire to help others.
Kara Slous, 25, is no exception.
But what she discovered is that firefighting gave back to her as much as she has given to it.
In her four years with the Tappen-Sunnybrae Fire Department, Slous has advanced to a number of key roles. She’s been a captain, is now a training officer, a member of the Shuswap Emergency Program Structural Protection Unit, is the Area C South Shuswap representative for the Occupational Health and Safety Committee, co-chairs the Fire Services Occupational Health and Safety Committee and was recently certified as a Columbia Shuswap Regional District (CSRD) Live Fire Instructor.
“Firefighting has taught me so much about myself. It’s not all learning fire skills. I’ve learned about leadership, about teamwork. Becoming a firefighter is about improving yourself while helping others.”
Currently all fire departments in the regional district are actively looking for new members. Recruits are needed to maintain appropriate standards of operation and firefighters provide a critical service to their communities. Volunteers are paid on-call for their response, training and practices. As well, all required personal protective equipment and training are provided – there are no out-of-pocket costs.
Slous began her career as a firefighter after becoming a South Shuswap First Responder. Her skills and dedication quickly came to the attention of other volunteers who were also part of the fire department. They encouraged her to give it a try, so she showed up to the regular Tuesday night fire practice.
“It was pretty exciting, it was diverse and there was a lot to learn. I caught the bug.”
Slous says there’s a lot of satisfaction in driving up to a scene knowing you have the skills and training to be helping others on what can be one of the worst days of their lives.
“It’s about seeing the whole picture – knowing how to follow and when to lead; it’s about facing fears and finding strength to make decisions in the worst circumstances,” she says. “It’s not about being a hero. It’s not about us, it’s about them.”
Contributed by the Columbia Shuswap Regional District.