December 13, 2014 - 5:00 AM
NOW IS THE TIME TO APPLY
THOMPSON-OKANAGAN - The wildfire season is just barely over but the provincial branch responsible for protecting us from wildfires is already getting prepared for next year.
This past year crews attended nearly 350 fires, which burned a total of more than 3,800 hectares, in just the Kamloops centre. Across the province nearly 370,000 hectares burned in 1,455 fires. Most of those hectares — 96 per cent — burned in the Prince George and Northwest Fire Centres.
With the wildfire season is officially over, B.C. Wildfire now begins accepting applications for the 2015 fire season. Those hiring are looking for people who are physically fit and highly motivated.
Several local firefighters say anyone who regularly plays a sport is usually fit enough to pass the test and anyone willing to put in hard work as part of a team will usually do well.
“The way we hire, it’s people who want to work, want to push. They’re very committed to what they do. You get that mutual mentality of ‘we’re going to war together,’” Jon Collavini, a 17-year veteran said in a recent interview. “It’s fairly simple (fighting fires), but it’s mental warfare, Mother Nature is fully in control.”
Seasonal firefighters are guaranteed three to five months of work and 35 hours per week. When not fighting actual fires crews are often training or taking preventative measures like reducing potential fuel sources.
Hundreds of seasonal firefighters will be hired across the province, including nearly 200 in just the Kamloops Fire Centre, which covers Kamloops, Clearwater, Lillooet, Salmon Arm, Merritt, Vernon and Penticton fire zones.
A boot camp will take place in Merritt in the spring, ahead of the natural wildfire season, and includes several levels of testing including a national standard fitness test. The WFX-FIT test has participants wear a weighted belt to simulate gear while carry a pump or hose on ramps and across level ground in a set amount of time.
Applications are being accepted until Jan. 24 and interviews will begin mid-February. Candidates passing the initial screenings will be invited to a boot camp that takes place in April and in May job offers are handed out.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014