School District 51 continues fire suppression program

The school district's fire suppression program has seen an increase in student interest.

The Fire Suppression program has seen an increase in student interest this year, with two classes being offered outside the regular secondary school timetable.

“The numbers are higher than we anticipated since we usually we just have one block with 12 students participating,” Strukoff said. “This year we have around 26 students between the two areas, so we introduced a second block. There will be one for BCSS (Boundary Central Secondary School and one for GFSS (Grand Forks Secondary School), so we do have a full complement of students in there.”

Instructed by retired principal Walt Osellame, the program is currently taught at GFSS and BCSS. There may be instances where both schools will learn together during the use of specialized equipment.

The Fire Suppression program trains young men and women, usually Grade 12 students, so that they are put in a position where they can find jobs with either the forestry services or fire fighters or with some of the contractors within the area.

The program teaches students about how fires are started and what to do to stop a fire.

“They get certifications, such as with chainsaw use and WHIMIS (Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System, as well as a credit,” Strukoff explained. “It’s a culmination of helping students bolster their resume and gain a credit.”

The course began in 1999 and used to be sponsored by the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources Operations forestry division.

Strukoff noted that the ministry has pulled away from the program since it began.

“They used to guarantee the top three students a summer job,” he said. “We still have an individual (Osellame) who has the qualifications to provide the training and if we lose that individual, we won’t be able to provide the service for students.”

The forestry division still provides advice, consultation and lends some equipment to the program.