An intense taste of the firefighting life

High school students from Ballenas in Parksville and Kwalikum in Qualicum Beach spend a week with fire department

Students from across District 69 got a chance to destroy a car

Students from across District 69 got a chance to destroy a car

Sixteen possible future firefighters were learning the ropes — and ladders, hoses and jaws of life — this week in the annual fire camp organized by the Qualicum Beach Fire Volunteer Department.

The Grade 10 to 12 students from Ballenas and Kwalikum Secondary Schools spent spring break in the tenth annual Fire Boot Camp getting a taste of the intensive training new members go through in local fire departments.

“They think they’re working hard,” Parksville fire chief Doug Banks quipped after students climbed the Beach Club stairs in full gear on Thursday, before he praised the effort they were putting in.

While the camp is organized by Qualicum Beach the students spend a day with the Parksville department, including time at their training facility in the industrial park doing things like cutting up cars.

The students spend the entire week with the fire department, billeting at the Qualicum Beach Civic Centre and learning skills including live fire attack, rope rescue, dealing with natural gas leaks and automotive fires, extrication from vehicles, CPR, basic first aid and the proper use of self-contained breathing apparatus.

Qualicum Beach chief Darryl Kohse has previously pointed out the training is done in a safe, supportive and positive environment, with individual skills, abilities and confidence levels taken into consideration.

Highlighting the importance of team work, the cadets get a chance to develop leadership and public speaking skills

The program — which goes towards a Grade 12 work experience credit — has seen several cadets go on to careers as firefighters.