An L.V. Rogers teacher brought her experience fighting forest fires to the Nelson school last Thursday.
Claire Hewson has spent the past five summers working for the Ministry of Forests as a wild land forest fire fighter on the Valhalla Unit Crew based out of Shoreacres.
“I am passionate about forest fire fighting and I wanted to spread awareness to the students who will soon be in the workforce,” says Hewson. “It is a great job that promotes learning and good work ethic.”
Held at LVR on May 2, students were greeted in the gym by Smokey the Bear and forest fire fighters from the Arrow Zone and Kootenay Lake Zone. Students watched a presentation of photos and videos which taught them about the job requirements, job tasks, different types of crews, different types of deployments, and the overall structure of Ministry Forest Fire Fighting.
“I wanted to create awareness of the forestry and forest fire fighting culture that is so prominent in the Kootenays,” says Hewson.
Moving outside for the majority of the day, students rotated through four stations: Digging Guard, Pump Hose Fit Test, Chainsaw and Tools, and Initial Attack Water Delivery.
In the digging guard station students used pulaskis to dig a hang guard which will later be used as a running trail for the students of LVR. In the pump hose fit test students ran the standardized fit test. This included carrying pumps, rolled hose and a charged hose.
“They needed to complete this in four minutes and 10 seconds,” says Hewson. “I am happy to say that every student who tried passed the test.”
There was also an engraved plaque given to the top male and female pump hose time.
In the chainsaw and tools station, students saw a demonstration of chainsaw skills, including bucking and falling. Students got to see all the tools that were used including rakes, P.P.E, and drip torches. They also learned about safe working distances and safety on the fire line.
In the initial attack station students learned how to start and troubleshoot a Mark III pump and a Shindawa pump while holding hoses and feeling the pressure of the water.
Around 60 to 70 students from Grades 10 to 12 partook in the event. There were 16 Forest Fire Fighters from the Kootenay area who helped run the stations.
“I am pleased to say that many students showed interest in pursuing forest fire fighting in the future and I think that L.V. Rogers has many potential candidates,” says Hewson. “It seems to attract like-minded adventurous people. The people I have met through forest fire fighting have become a second family to me.”