Twelve young women take part in North Bay Fire Department training
Twelve young women completed four days of immersive training with the North Bay Fire and Emergency Service. The goal was to give a glimpse of what a career in the Fire Department would entail while teaching skills essential to the job.
Linden Fischer, a grade-11 student at Northern Secondary School in Sturgeon Falls, was one of the 12 taking part in the program. Fischer was looking forward to the opportunity, and the experience was wholly positive. “It exceeded my expectations,” she said.
She may come by firefighting naturally, as her father, Chris Fischer is a long-time volunteer firefighter in Field. “It was an amazing experience, and very physically demanding,” but the training inspired her to continue down the path to the Fire Hall. “I think I could pursue this as a career.”
The program was a joint initiative between the North Bay Fire and Emergency Service and all four local school boards and was the first of its kind in the area. “The training is meant to empower these young women to explore the fire service and provide them with experience, information, and guidance to pursue this impactful career path in a safe and fun environment,” the Fire Department explained.
What did they learn? Emergency medical training, search and rescue techniques, extrication practices, firefighter suppression tactics, and pumper operations. For their final exercise, they charged into a smoke-filled building, hose in tow, and rescued a fellow firefighter who was unconscious inside.
It all took place at the Greenhill Playground. The burning building was the shed beside the rink people used to gear up in. The smoke was fake – there was no fire – but the action was all real, especially when they pulled the 100-plus-pound rescue manikin through the door.
“It gives them a chance to see what the fire services are about and what it takes to be a firefighter,” explained Chief Jason Whiteley, who came to see the trainees in action before hosting a graduation ceremony for them at Station 1.
“It takes more than a strong back to do this job,” he said. “There are a lot of different aspects to the job,” and he hopes the week of training inspired them to consider firefighting as a career path. “We always want an inclusive workplace,” he added, “which means that everybody has an equal opportunity to do this job.”
Katelyn Niestroy, a Sundridge grade-10 student at Almaguin Highlands Secondary School in South River, has that career goal in her sights. “I wasn’t really sure before I did this program, but after, it’s a boost of confidence, and now I think I want to do it.”
“This is my first time experiencing anything to do with the fire service, so it was really nerve-wracking, but you get really comfortable really quick.”
Will she one day join the front lines for North Bay? “Yeah, I hope so. They’re incredible people, and all of the girls and instructors were so great to work with. They are amazing.”
David Briggs is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of BayToday, a publication of Village Media. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.
David Briggs, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, BayToday.ca