British Columbia will train 750 people to fight wildfires in a pre-emptive move to deal with tinder-dry forests and a fire season that’s striking raging and faster than usual.
“The fire season has hit harder and earlier than average and our fire crews have been working extremely hard to put the flames out,” Forests and Range Minister Pat Bell said in a news release. “We’re taking an opportunity to be proactive and provide unemployed workers with the skills to help fight fires should we face the need in the coming months.”
The Emergency Firefighter Training program will pay people $15 per hour to take the S-100 Basic Fire Suppression and Safety training course that prepares them to become emergency firefighters.
The two-day course teaches wildfire suppression, combining classroom theory and hands-on training.
Successful graduates will get a “S-100” certificate and be placed on an availability list to assist fire centres and fire suppression contractors in the event that existing resources are fully deployed and additional contingency firefighting resources are needed.
“Residents of rural communities understand the threat that wildfires pose,” Bell said in the news release. “They want to be part of the solution and we want to make sure they have the training to stay safe if called upon to protect homes, businesses, and the forest resource they depend on.”
Training for the $250,000 program is expected to start next week, and will be delivered across the province near fire centres in Parksville, Kamloops, Castlegar, Prince George, Smithers, and Williams Lake.