A goal for Columbia Shuswap Regional District (CSRD) set at the start of 2020 to increase the number of firefighters in the region who are fully certified began to falter due to a challenging year. However, hard work, most notably from a 78-year-old volunteer, helped reach that goal.
Last January the regional district set out to increase to 150 the number of volunteer firefighters at the 13 departments who are fully certified to the B.C. professional standard.
The goal proved challenging as COVID-19 shut down training opportunities. However, first with Zoom and then with in-person sessions later in the year, numerous firefighters completed the book work and hands-on training required.
With the last days of December ticking away, 78-year-old volunteer firefighter and 13-year veteran of the Swansea Point Fire Department, Mike Thoms, upgraded his training.
Thoms joined the department after moving to Swansea Point for his retirement 13 years ago.
“We made a new home here and I wanted to give something back. No use just sitting around wasting my time. If the fire department figured I was good enough for them at my age, then why not become a firefighter?” he said.
During his time with the department, Thoms has been slowly working his way through the training courses, including the physically demanding live fire exterior training module.
According to the regional district, Thoms pioneered the role of rehab officer at the CSRD, monitoring the health and safety of firefighters when they are battling blazes. He was trained by Sicamous paramedics to monitor vital signs and blood pressure, and has gone on to help train rehab officers for other departments.
Thoms said he loves his role with the fire department and plans to do it for as long as he is able.
All CSRD fire departments are recruiting paid on-call firefighters and welcome all inquiries. Those who want more information can contact Sean Coubrough, CSRD fire services coordinator, at 250-833-5955 or visit the CSRD website page at www.csrd.bc.ca/FirefighterRecruiting.