Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Iqaluit July 18, 2017 - 4:00 pm

Fired up: Nunavut capital offering free firefighter course for youth

Two-week course, to run in August, will give youth hands-on firefighter training

BETH BROWN
Iqaluit's deputy fire chief Stephane Dionne stands by a burned out car at the fire department’s training grounds down Federal Road. (PHOTOS BY BETH BROWN)
Iqaluit's deputy fire chief Stephane Dionne stands by a burned out car at the fire department’s training grounds down Federal Road. (PHOTOS BY BETH BROWN)
A seacan house helps Iqaluit firefighters train in methods for dealing with smoke and fighting fires in enclosed spaces.
A seacan house helps Iqaluit firefighters train in methods for dealing with smoke and fighting fires in enclosed spaces.
The manual that will be used by youth ages 16 to 24 during an upcoming junior firefighting program, to be offered for free in August in Iqaluit.
The manual that will be used by youth ages 16 to 24 during an upcoming junior firefighting program, to be offered for free in August in Iqaluit.

If you’re young and strong and living in Iqaluit, and you have an urge to douse a burning car, rescue an unconscious person or escape from a smoke filled room, then the city has a new program designed just for you.

The Iqaluit fire department is offering a new two-week junior firefighter’s course for youth aged 16 to 24.

“Normal people, when they see fire, they run away,” said Iqaluit deputy fire chief Stephane Dionne.

That’s probably because they don’t know how to face it, he said.

The free course gives youth hands-on training as firefighters as well as general First Aid certification.

“This is job experience, to expose them to being a firefighter,” said Dionne, who will teach student techniques for forcing an entry and fighting fires in confined spaces. 

Sometimes these techniques can be as simple as knowing how to tie the right knot, he said.

“When you can bring a chainsaw or an axe to a second floor because you were able to do the proper knot to bring it up and break a window for ventilation, you achieve a goal,” he said. “With each goal we achieve, we can fix the problem.”

Dionne is hoping that the fire training program will provide youth with some of their own goals as well. He said he is especially looking for applicants who are currently unemployed or not attending school.

Trainees will spend their 10-hour days on course living like firefighters, learning about rescue and first aid, and extinguishing fires in both homes and vehicles.

The Iqaluit Fire Training Centre, down Federal Road, has a mock two-story seacan house that can be filled with smoke to simulate a fire. Students will learn how to rescue an unconscious person and how to kick through drywall when they are trapped in a burning room.

The youth will also learn how to put out a fire in an actual car. The practice car at the training ground has gone up in flames 25 times, said Dionne, and can take another 75 to 125 burns.

As well, training will focus on team building, leadership, and physical fitness—all part of what firefighters call “esprit de corps,” or morale, said Dionne.

The course is fashioned after a similar program Dionne has taught in B.C. He said firefighter certification courses taught in the South are very expensive. This junior firefighter’s course gives youth an opportunity to see what the job is all about.

And, “if they decide they have the calling, they will be able to do the same thing as our volunteers,” he said.  Iqaluit has 18 full time firefighters and 20 volunteers.

To apply, drop by the fire station to tell deputy fire chief Dionne why you want to take part. You can also phone him at 867-979-5662 or send an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

The course, which runs Aug. 14 to Aug. 25, is accepting up to 20 people but Dionne said it will run even if numbers are low.

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