Whether it was the proximity to home or the feeling of a home away from home, fire officers from across the country jumped at the chance to enrol in Lakeland’s Fire Officer Training levels 3 and 4.
Lakeland partners with the Ontario Fire College to offer the program.
For Jeff Fallow, fire chief and manager of protective services for Cold Lake, the opportunity to take a course he’d been looking at for a while this close to home was impossible to pass up.
“I’d been looking at taking it for a while, so having it offered fairly locally was very appealing,” he says. “I’ve taken other courses through Lakeland so I knew it would be a good one to take.”
Fallow started his career in firefighting as a volunteer firefighter in 1989 and was eventually hired on full time. He’s been a fire chief for 12 years and the training at Lakeland is reinforcing what he already does on the job.
“This has been a great opportunity to support what I’ve been doing already and getting to train with other chiefs and platoon chiefs has been invaluable. It’s great to learn from their backgrounds and experiences. It’s especially nice because I only have an hour and a half drive when I’m done. Some of the other guys have to fly home.”
Long flight feels like coming home
Brian Brown, from Happy Valley Goose Bay, Labrador, doesn’t mind the long flight. He’s made it many times. Coming to Lakeland is almost a homecoming for him.
Brown began training for a career in firefighting in 2004 with the support of his employers. Throughout his career, he has been an assistant deputy platoon chief, a platoon chief, and most recently, a fire inspector. He had been inspired to make the career shift by a few friends who worked in firefighting. Together, he and his employers looked into finding an academic institution that could provide Brown with the right accredited training.
“It doesn’t take long before you’re welcomed in and Lakeland becomes part of your comfort zone,” he says. “Lakeland is great. There are still some familiar faces from the beginning here today.”
Brown completed his first firefighter training session at Lakeland and was impressed by the experience. He returned to home to Newfoundland and Labrador and then, a few weeks later, came back again in a pattern that repeated itself a number of times. He learned about pump and hydraulic operations, wildland firefighting, dangerous goods, aerial apparatus, airport firefighting and more.
“My own aspirations kept me coming back,” he says. “The opportunity was there and it was a natural progression for me to continue learning and creating more opportunities for myself.”
It was that sense of familiarity that inspired him to seek Lakeland out again when he was looking to get his officer certificates.
Brown had done some additional training back home and was looking to complete his fire officer training levels 2, 3 and 4. Lakeland’s blended-learning opportunity made it especially convenient for him, allowing him to complete most of the training at home and only requiring him to be on site for the technical portions.
“I have this level of comfort with Lakeland College. I’ve grown with Lakeland and that was significant for me,” he says. “It was great to be on site working with the great people from Lakeland again.”
Whether travelling across the region or the country, both Fallow and Brown are confident that the fire officer training they received at Lakeland will serve to reinforce skills they use in the roles they fill in their home communities.
“It’s another great thing that Lakeland has done for me,” Brown says. “I’m able to go forward with confidence because of the great leadership, the great instructors, and the great team at Lakeland who have built that confidence in me. It’s a higher level of learning. Everything we learn is geared towards providing us with the knowledge and skills we need to go into the fire service and find success. Lakeland teaches you what needs to be done.”
Photos: (Top) Jeff Fallow from Cold Lake. (Bottom) Brian Brown from Labrador.