Aussie trains for dream job at Lakeland< More Stories
“This has been a great experience,” says Fidler. “You obviously do a lot of theory in the program and then they put you in a practical situation where you see it happening. It really sinks in and connects. Working as a team and getting everyone on the team to do their individual tasks to accomplish the goal has been a good challenge.”
The 21-year-old is no stranger to challenges. At the age of 17 Fidler enlisted in the Australian army, after which he spent two years as a volunteer municipal firefighter and then became a wildland firefighter to gain more experience.
“Australia’s wildfires are massive so it was very intense. One of them burned 13,300 hectares in six hours,” says Fidler, whose journey from Victoria, Australia to the Emergency Training Centre in Vermilion, Alta. began in 2014. While working alongside a Lakeland-trained firefighter in Australia, Fidler set his sights on Lakeland.
“My mate from New Zealand used to work with the Kananaskis fire department and they sent him here (Lakeland) to do his training. He recommended Lakeland as the place to go,” says Fidler, who arrived in Canada in July and shortly after started the program.
“It’s been crazy fun. When we started the real firefighting scenarios in our seventh week we started with structural fires. We did scenarios in the smoke tower, run after run, which was awesome.”
Listing the “big propane tree” and the “widow maker” as highlights from Lakeland’s industrial firefighting scenarios, Fidler completed approximately 150 hours of live scenario training in the 12-week firefighter program.
“You have to really think on your feet,” he says. “Our instructors are great. They are challenging us with each scenario. Before each one they do a bit of a walk through. As we start to get a bit better, they step back and we step up and we make our own decisions.”
Coming from a family of firefighters – Fidler’s grandfather was a firefighter for 60 years in the same department and his uncle is a professional firefighter – Fidler is excited to start his Canadian firefighting career.
“I definitely want to work in municipal firefighting, it’s what I always wanted to get into,” he says. “Wildland firefighting was a great experience and now with my Lakeland education, I am ready.
“This is my dream job. It’s what I have always wanted to do.”
Photos: Top photo, during his eighth week of the program Fidler (red helmet) took his turn as captain and led his team through live industrial fire scenarios at the Emergency Training Centre. Bottom photo, Fidler graduated from the 12-week firefighter program on Oct. 3. His goal is to work in municipal firefighting in Canada.