North Island College Skills Training Supports Communities to Stamp Out Wildfire Impacts

Twelve people in Campbell River are getting training as wildland firefighters to help protect B.C.'s communities and natural resources, and gain skills that could be foundations for rewarding careers.

Claire Trevena, MLA for North Island, visited participants on behalf of Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training, as they took part in a wildfire crewmember training program funded through a provincial program and delivered by North Island College (NIC).

"Students in Campbell River are taking important steps to transform their lives with skills training by stepping up to protect the province as wildfire crew members," said Mark. "This shows how opening the door of opportunity through education can lift up members of our communities as we climb and protect the environment."

Natural resource management firm Strategic Natural Resource Consultants is receiving $126,000 from the Community Workforce Response Grant (CWRG) program to help train 12 firefighters in Port Alberni and 12 in Campbell River, with training delivered by NIC.

"Wildfires have a huge impact on our communities and this is one way the government is working to prevent and respond to natural disasters throughout B.C.," said Trevena. "This project will also have tangible and long-term benefits for students. It opens the door to a range of other jobs doing meaningful work in the natural resources sector."

In the course, which started May 6 and ends May 31, learners will receive the certificates and training they need to work as entry-level wildland firefighters at Strategic or other incident management contractors.

Practical skills and fundamental theory covered in the course include fire suppression, fire behaviour, wildlife awareness and radio operator and power saw certifications.

The CWRG's emerging priorities stream supports communities undergoing labour market challenges and opportunities, such as industry closures or expansions, or natural disasters like forest fires and floods.

The 2017 and 2018 fire seasons were two of the worst on record in B.C. The Province has stepped up fire prevention strategies, programs and funding to help keep British Columbians and their communities safe this summer. Budget 2019 included a 58% increase to wildfire management funding to $101 million a year, including more crews, more aerial capacity and innovative technology, and a more comprehensive prescribed burning program.

This training project is an additional way the government is supporting communities and sectors addressing wildfires and wildfire prevention in B.C.

Original article from North Island College