Comox Fire Rescue hosted its 10th bi-annual youth training camp from March 25–28, offering high school students in the Comox Valley the chance to learn valuable firefighting skills and techniques.
Thirty-five students from School District 71 (SD71) and one student from the Cowichan Valley put aside their spring break to participate in the intensive four-day program.
The training teaches students a variety of skills, including structure firefighting techniques, rappelling, and CPR, through a series of exercises and simulations.
All of the training is provided by local firefighters.
Students also work in teams to learn about safety in the workplace and gain exposure to self-contained breathing apparatuses, large ladders, ropes and knots, and other firefighting-based equipment.
Jayden McLain, a Grade 12 student at Frances Kelsey School in Mill Bay, was the camp’s lone participant to not come from the Comox Valley school district. She was motivated to take part because her mother is a firefighter.
“It was definitely a lot of hard work and you need a lot of determination to get through this program, even though it’s a short time period,” she said. “Just being able to be put in uncomfortable situations and being able to adapt to them to the best of your abilities.”
Comox fire chief Gord Schreiner says the camp’s main goal is to teach students fire prevention lifestyle skills.
“It’s not really all about firefighting, even though that’s what we’re doing here,” said Schreiner. “What we want them to see is positive role models in the community and the way the community functions. We have a lot of firefighters here volunteering their time and that becomes a fabric of the community.
“If they don’t step up and help out, who’s going to do it? That’s what we’re trying to show them.”
All four secondary schools in SD71 were represented at the camp, which caters primarily to Grade 11 and 12 students.
Nearly 400 students have graduated from the training camp since it started in 2000.