A new provincial pilot project will see 12 members of the Tsilhqot’in Nation learn the basics of firefighting over the course of several days.
The BC Wildfire Service (BCWS) has partnered with the Tsilhqot’in National Government to provide the Tsilhqot’in Wildland Firefighter Bootcamp.
“This training bootcamp aims to increase wildfire capacity within local Tsilhqot’in communities, provide training and work experience and increase the number of successful First Nations applicants within the BC Wildfire Service crews, specifically for the Cariboo Fire Centre or a contract crew,” said Jessica Mack, communications specialist with the Cariboo Fire Centre.
Along with learning firefighting basics, participants will also obtain certifications related to wildfire suppression, learn the physical rigors of being a wildland firefighter, how to build their resume and focus on interview skills.
Mack said once members have completed the program, they have a greater chance of being hired through the wildfire service’s regular hiring process or working on a contract crew as a firefighter. Additionally, the training will help First Nations communities to build wildfire suppression capacity for their local crews, or in gaining experience needed to secure entry level fire suppression contracts with BCWS.
“The long-term goal is for successful candidates to work with BC Wildfire Service to gain fire and emergency management skills and knowledge which they can bring back to their communities and bring their Indigenous knowledge to us while working for BC Wildfire Service,” Mack said.
“This built-in capacity within local First Nations communities will improve our coordinated response to wildfires and strengthen our relationships.”
Originally set to occur at the beginning of April, the training bootcamp at Puntzi was postponed due to the pandemic.
Mack said they however continue to look into possible opportunities to do some complimentary training in the fall.
“Since BC Wildfire Service already has a tripartite agreement with the Tsilhqot’in Nation, we felt it was a great opportunity to form a partnership with them to create a wildland firefighter training program focused specifically at First Nations candidates,” she added, noting the program is a result of a recruitment strategy discussion last fall within the Cariboo Fire Centre that had evolved into how the wildfire service could help increase the number of successful First Nation applicants.