Firefighter training comes home
City partners with Lakeland College to offer course in June
Saturday, Mar 29, 2014 06:00 am
Prospective firefighters may no longer have to leave the city to get trained.
A new partnership between the City of St. Albert and Lakeland College will bring the National Fire Protection Association 1001 Firefighter program to the city from June 16 to Aug. 29.
The 12-week course, which is a requirement to become a firefighter, is offered throughout the year in Vermilion, 200 kilometres east of Edmonton.
Offering the program locally will not only be cost-effective for students – they won’t have to pay for room and board in Vermilion – but also the local fire department, said Fire Chief Ray Richards.
“We could train here on site, but it’s expensive. Many of the training exercises and practical experiences, you can’t even do unless you have a critical mass of five students,” he said.
Large municipal fire departments, such as those in Edmonton and Calgary, provide on-site training for up to 20 recruits. Smaller departments, like St. Albert, don’t have large recruitment intakes so they partner with regional departments to hold training courses, Richards explained.
Last year St. Albert hosted a second level firefighter training course with the Spruce Grove fire department.
Richards estimated that 50 per cent of city firefighters have been trained on-site, in part due to a large recruitment of 20 people in 2009.
Right now there is a demand for qualified firefighters in the capital region, said Dr. Tracy Edwards, president of Lakeland College, in a news release.
“By providing the training in St. Albert, we’re confident we’ll substantially increase the number of qualified people ready and eager to start a career in the fire service.”
When the contract with Lakeland College was signed earlier this month, city officials said the partnership will be good exposure for tourism and local businesses.
“This partnership not only raises the stature of our department, but offers opportunities and training that current and future firefighters from around the province will seek out,” said Mayor Nolan Crouse.
Richards added the program will also add value to the classroom education firefighting students receive.
“We’re a live fire hall and these young people will get a chance to see how a fire department actually works day-to-day,” he said. “It’s a lot different than sitting in a classroom.”
City officials note that if the trial program is successful, it could expand to include several other short-term emergency response courses.