Skills training supports communities to stamp out wildfire impacts

Minister Claire Trevena meets with NIC Wildfire students in Campbell River with NIC Board Chair Jane Murphy, President John Bowman, Regional Director of Continuing Education and Training Lynne MacFadgen and Wildfire instructor Henry Grierson.

Twelve people in Campbell River are getting training as wildland firefighters to help protect B.C.'s communities and natural resources, and gain skills that could be foundations for rewarding careers.

Claire Trevena, MLA for North Island, visited participants on behalf of Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training, as they took part in a wildfire crew member training program funded through a provincial program and delivered by North Island College (NIC).

"Students in Campbell River are taking important steps to transform their lives with skills training by stepping up to protect the province as wildfire crew members," said Mark. "This shows how opening the door of opportunity through education can lift up members of our communities as we climb and protect the environment."

Natural resource management firm Strategic Natural Resource Consultants is receiving $126,000 from the Community Workforce Response Grant (CWRG) program to help train 12 firefighters in Port Alberni and 12 in Campbell River, with training delivered by NIC.

"Wildfires have a huge impact on our communities and this is one way government is working to prevent and respond to natural disasters throughout B.C.," said Trevena. "This project will also have tangible and long-term benefits for students. It opens the door to a range of other jobs doing meaningful work in the natural resources sector."

In the course, which started May 6 and ends May 31, learners will receive the certificates and training they need to work as entry level wildland firefighters at Strategic or other incident management contractors.

Practical skills and fundamental theory covered in the course include fire suppression, fire behaviour, wildlife awareness and radio operator and power saw certifications.

The CWRG's emerging priorities stream supports communities undergoing labour market challenges and opportunities, such as industry closures or expansions, or natural disasters like forest fires and floods.

The 2017 and 2018 fire seasons were two of the worst on record in B.C. The Province has stepped up fire prevention strategies, programs and funding to help keep British Columbians and their communities safe this summer. Budget 2019 included a 58% increase to wildfire management funding to $101 million a year, including more crews, more aerial capacity and innovative technology, and a more comprehensive prescribed burning program.

This training project is an additional way government is supporting communities and sectors addressing wildfires and wildfire prevention in B.C.

Quotes:

Tracy O'Malley, HR manager, Strategic Natural Resource Consultants -

"Being West Coast based, we know how important the lands and forests of British Columbia are to our clients and communities, and being able to build up our incident management workforce is crucial to providing prevention and protection services to these resources. This is rewarding work, and many of our firefighters return to our crews year after year."

Lynne MacFadgen, NIC regional director, continuing education and training -

"We're delighted to offer this skills training, in partnership with Strategic Natural Resource Consultants, so that our students receive current safety and core skills training just in time to seek employment as a wildfire crew member. With funding from the Province that offsets tuition, we can prepare entry level crew members to be ready for fire prevention and fire suppression action in the Coastal wildfire region and all across B.C. where crews are dispatched."

Quick Facts:

* The CWRG funds up to $10 million a year to support flexible and timely responses to emerging and urgent labour and skills needs in communities.

* The CWRG is funded through the Canada-B.C. Workforce Development Agreement, which provides $685 million over six years for labour market programming in B.C.

* The wildfire training is funded under the CWRG's emerging priorities stream.

* The CWRG has two other streams: an Indigenous communities and a workforce shortages stream.

* The 2018 BC Labour Market Outlook projects the province will have 903,000 job openings throughout B.C. by 2028. The majority - over three quarters - will require post-secondary education or training.

Learn More:

Strategic Natural Resource Consultants: snrc.ca

NIC wildfire training program: www.nic.bc.ca/wildfire 

CWRG: workbc.ca/communityworkforcegrant

BC Wildfire Service: bcwildfire.ca

Connect with the Province of B.C. at: http://news.gov.bc.ca/connect

Media Contact
Elizabeth Young
Media Liaison, North Island College
250-334-5233