The Salmon Arm Fire Department is opening its ranks to high school students in a program where they will train alongside firefighters and serve the community while earning school credits.
Fire Chief Brad Shirley presented the program, which gets underway in January, to Salmon Arm city council at their Sept. 9 meeting. Shirley noted the driving force behind the development of the program was deputy fire chief Gary Lebeter, who teaches automotive technology at Salmon Arm’s Secondary.
“It’s something we’ve been wanting to do for some time and now that we have additional staff we’re able to do that,” Shirley said.
Shirley said while a junior fire fighter program is nothing new to the fire service in B.C. and many other parts of North America, it is new to Salmon Arm.
He said it is focused on Grade 11 and 12 students. Junior firefighters will attend training sessions with the rest of Salmon Arm’s firefighters and get credits towards their schooling.
Shirley said the junior firefighters will be able to attend some calls, but not significant structure fires or calls where there are injuries or death.
According to Shirley, the program will ideally take in eight junior firefighters; two for each of Salmon Arm’s halls.
“We’ll just see what interest there is from the kids,” he said.
Coun. Kevin Flynn likened the program to other efforts to get young people involved, such as Salmon Arm’s youth council. He said he hopes the program will assist the Salmon Arm department’s recruiting efforts.
Harrison said he hopes young men and women come forward and take advantage of the opportunity.