Richard McLeod

Cadet program could lead to career

Firefighting course being held in Sooke for youth 16-years-old and older

The local fire department is recruiting youth in Sooke to join their new cadet fire fighting training program, which will commence on April 13.

“Our hope is that they’ll stay on as a volunteer in Sooke if they’re living here, but it gives them the potential to take this training and apply to a career position somewhere else,” said fire chief Steve Sorensen.

According to Sorensen, the program will be accepting a maximum of 10 applicants, who must be a minimum of 16-years-of-age. He said the cadets will receive the exact same training as new recruit fire fighters, at no cost.

Cadets will receive the entire gamut of training from knowledge of fire fighting gear to handling hoses and climbing ladders. With enough training time accrued, cadets can qualify for Fire Fighter level one and Fire Fighter level two.  The entire program itself will take about two years to complete.

Sorensen said after six months of training, cadets will be able to respond to fire calls, but will only perform duties they’re qualified for. Which would still be of great service to the fire department, as volunteer fire fighters are hard to come by.

“I don’t think we’re in dire straits, but definitely the need is there,” Sorensen said. “Historically we lose half of the people who sign up in the first couple of months because they find out it’s too big a commitment for their lifestyle.”

Although the demand for volunteer fire fighters in Sooke is high — with 8 vacant positions — Sorensen said the program will be beneficial for students who want volunteer hours for graduation, work experience, and possible career positions in the future.

“We’re hoping we’re going to fill the ranks, but it’s kind of buildling on the future.”

Students will receive training at Station 1 or Station 2 depending on where they reside, and will have to arrange their own transportation to the respective detachment.

The Sooke fire department introduced students to the cadet program at Edward Milne Community School’s open house on Feb. 20, and held two information sessions at the school on Feb. 23.

The cadet training classes will be every second Friday from 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m.