This past fire season under a local pilot program, three SD 69 students enrolled in the Rivers, Oceans, and Mountains (ROAMS) Program were hired to join BC Wildfire Service fire crews at the Errington Fire Base. Students Jasper Edge, Quinten Donaldson and Wylder Austin-Carson had the experience of a lifetime as they were part of one of the most memorable summers in history from a firefighting perspective.

Their term of employment ran from June 28th until August 28th and these students were deployed to many prominent wildfires including the Dog Mountain Fire in Port Alberni and the Lizard Lake Fire near Port Renfrew.  They also worked on many more that they helped extinguish before they became large scale disasters.

Forest protection technician Alan Berry of the BC Wildfire Service shared the following perspective in a letter to my office, ‘Your students performed above expectations.  They brought a wealth of skills from the ROAMs program including basic fire suppression, helicopter safety, occupational First Aid Level 3, radio operator, and wilderness safety training which was instrumental in allowing them to integrate quickly into our crews during a very busy part of the fire season.  Once members of our team, they quickly adapted to the level of professionalism and work ethic expected of our staff.  They also developed many universal skills and experiences that should help with future employment opportunities’.

From a District point of view, this local pilot was a huge success and we hope to not only continue this program next season, but also seek to share the model with other Fire Service areas in the province.

A big thanks goes out to Darin Carmichael our ROAMs program teacher for all of the work that he did to ensure that our students were able to gain valuable skills and experience through this innovative partnership.

Rollie Koop

Superintendent of Schools