Training is an ongoing focus of Big Lake Fire and Rescue.
Fire chief Joel Bruneski said members have trained in emergency medical, vehicle rescue, wildland firefighting, ice rescue, incident command, emergency scene traffic control and helicopter landing zone management.
He said Emergency Health Services is using helicopters more and more.
“There is one stationed in Prince George and one in Kamloops and we are seeing them out here and fire departments are being tasked with setting up the landing area whether it’s at our fire hall, in a field or a side road - wherever we can make it happen.”
Members are also trained for electrical safety with BC Hydro so they can conduct themselves safely during a fire when near power lines or electrical lines.
Driver training and basic hazardous material response are offered as well.
“Our latest venture is knot and rope tying. Some people love it - some people struggle.”
There are presently 19 members in the fire department and three of them are junior members.
“I’m proud to say two of the juniors are mine,” Bruneski said.
Junior members are ages 16 to 19 and once they turn 19 become full members.
The junior program provides something for that age group to do in the Big Lake area and gives the firefighters experience.
“I got a job in the Middle East because of the Big Lake Fire Department,” he said, noting he is one of the founding members that got the department going in 1995.
Of the 19 members, 11 are first responders. The department also has a ladies auxiliary program to boost morale and keep members and families involved through activities such as barbecues and family events.
“We are having our annual Halloween fireworks display on Oct. 31. We meet at the fire hall for a very spectacular show of fireworks and show off of costumes. It is always a fun time.”
Bruneski is the local assistant to the Fire Commissioner which means he assists with fire investigations, reports fires as well as assists with fire safety inspections. Another member spearheads FireSmart initiatives.
Big Lake Fire Department is not funded through the Cariboo Regional District, but does receive a gaming grant.
“We have to apply every year so there is no guarantee, but when the money arrives it is really needed. We need money to buy insurance for the hall, the trucks and our operating costs.”
Additionally there is a volunteer community levy on taxation to help fund the department.
The department owns four trucks - a rescue, an engine and two tenders. This year all of the self-contained breathing apparatuses were replaced.
Bruneski said after a quiet beginning to 2022, things have picked up the last three months with lots of medical calls and vehicle accidents.
Other members are Deputy Chief Mark Wilkie, Captain Ken Waters, Safety Officer Scott Sollenberger, Secretary/treasurer Lora Mears, Murray Dyment, Virginia Waters, Dan Swan, Kelly Burnham, Peter Baetz,
Chris Shepherd, Eric Annett, Britny Parker, Brett Parker, Isabella Plasun, Micaiah Taylor, Brad MacKendrick, Juniors Ian Bruneski, Natasha Plasun and Emily Bruneski.