Firefighter Sue Idle (right) with Pass Creek Fire Department chief Aaron Bebelman. Photo: Submitted

Firefighter Sue Idle (right) with Pass Creek Fire Department chief Aaron Bebelman. Photo: Submitted

‘It is hard. It is fun’: 55-year-old Castlegar area woman becomes firefighter

Sue Idle is one of the newest members of the Pass Creek Fire Department

Sue Idle has always been a bit of a go-getter, but at the age of 55 she has now accomplished one of the biggest challenges of her life.

Idle is one of the newest members of the Pass Creek Fire Department (PCFD).

After moving to the Castlegar area three years ago and trying to semi-retire, Idle starting looking for a way to give back to her new community. The idea of joining the local volunteer fire department began to percolate in her mind, as did the physical and mental work it take to succeed. With the support and encouragement of her partner, Idle took the first step and has continued to march forward ever since.

Idle says training with people half her age and trying to stay neck and neck with them took a lot of work and determination, but she was supported along the way by the department’s chief Aaron Bebelman and the rest of the crew.

“I appreciate the camaraderie,” said Idle of the PCFD crew. “They have become like family. They are a supportive group.”

She says that connection is really important when your life could be dependent on your crew mates’ decisions.

So far Idle has passed exterior boot camp (done in full gear in the August heat last year), interior boot camp and the first responder course. She did her live fire training in freezing temperatures and is currently working on motor vehicle extrication and air brakes courses.

“Successfully completing these courses is so rewarding,” says Idle. “It is a great feeling knowing you can do something when people are in trouble.”

Idle plans to keep taking every course she can and has a goal of one day becoming a captain in the department.

“It is hard. It is fun. But it is beyond rewarding to be a member of the Pass Creek Fire Department,” says Idle.

Chief Bebelman is encouraging more people to give firefighting a chance. The department has 13 members, but Bebelman would like to see that increase to about 20.

Beyond the courses Idle has taken, the department also offers training in structural protection, wildfire suppression, swift water rescue and rope rescue. There is even a junior firefighter program for people 17 years old and above.

Bebelman says the extra staff will be appreciated as the department is in the midst of a busy year. The PCFD averages 40-to-80 calls a year, but as of July they had already responded to 35 calls.

If you’re interested in joining the team, email abebelman@rdck.bc.ca.



betsy.kline@castlegarnews.com

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