FNESS Wildfire Training Program helps Shuswap Band prepare for 2024 wildfire season

Jul 11, 2024

group of wildland firefighters setting up equipment. one has his thumb up and smiling.

When Shuswap Band requested wildfire training from First Nations’ Emergency Services Society (FNESS), we were eager to assist.

Collaboration is critical when developing training programs for communities. That’s why engagement sessions are an important first step in the training development process. Before deciding on a schedule for the training, FNESS and Shuswap Band gathered together online to create a space for Shuswap Band to express their wildfire response objectives and community needs. FNESS wildfire specialists listened to Shuswap Band intently and gained enough insight to create a custom Type 2 Wildfire Training S-Series program for their community.

Developing a Custom Wildfire Training Program

After presenting the custom program recommendations to the community, Shuswap Band selected a training package that worked best for their unique needs and it was time to confirm delivery dates. The training package they selected needed to be split in two separate modules and it worked best for the community to deliever the training during workdays.

Once training program details were set, it was time to establish a timeline. Coordinating training can be challenging because certified instructors from FNESS and external contractors need to be available at a time that works best for the community. However, with dedication and teamwork, dates that worked for everyone were found, and Shuswap Band’s Wildfire Training Bootcamp was scheduled for May 2024.

Teaching a class about wildfire training
guard digging

Enjoying Wildfire Training

FNESS brought the training bootcamp into the community of Shuswap Band and it was a huge success. It was an honour to see participants enjoying the experience while learning from highly knowledgeable and qualified instructors.

Here are a few words from some of the people who made this training possible:

Sierra Stump, Shuswap Band’s Director of Lands and Public Works, was the one who made the request to FNESS to help with training. She emphasized the importance of building wildfire response capacity and coordination:

“Shuswap Band has taken an aggressive approach to fire suppression within our community. We are happy to announce we had approximately 11 staff and Shuswap members trained through the FNESS funded program.  Shuswap Band, through our partnership with Wildlands Eco-Forestry and Columbia Basin Trust, purchased a Structural Protection Unit that will aid in keeping our community safe from the threat of Wildfires to which our staff, members and Windermere Valley Fire Department also partook in.  When our communities can come together in training and share experiences and knowledge, we all will benefit in times of emergencies.”

Doug Harrison, Owner Operator and Instructor at Apex Forest Services, who delivered the wildfire instruction, remarked:

“The Shuswap Band training was an opportunity to bridge the importance of wildland fire suppression training, strategies, and techniques together with those activities that currently serve the infrastructure needs of the community; maintenance and water management, and administration. The group saw value in connecting the wildland fire suppression principles together to further enhance and protect the community in the future with their structure protection trailer and the training skills learned.”

Rob Bosse, FNESS Wildfire Division Supervisor and Wildfire Specialist for the Southeast Fire Centre:

“Wildfire training empowers staff, opens up economic opportunities, and creates safer First Nation communities. It was, and always is, very rewarding for myself and our team to see these successful wildfire training sessions delivered to communities”

In addition to the wildfire training bootcamp sessions, Shuswap Band also coordinated and benefited from FNESS’s Community Support Department which provides a variety of services including structure protection unit training led by Neill Moroz:

“Training is two days with both a classroom and practical aspect. This is a BC Wildfire Service (BCWS) accredited course that allows the participants to be deployed to do Structural Protection for BCWS and FNESS. One of our goals is to have a group of trained First Nation Firefighters that we can access throughout the province to be deployed locally, regionally, or provincially.”

Building Safer and Healthier First Nation Communities

FNESS thanks Shuswap Band for their willingness to collaborate with us and for participating in this valuable training. It’s training like this that helps build safer and healthier First Nation communities across BC.

To learn more about the FNESS Wildfire Training Program, please contact the FNESS Wildfire Division.

Workshop in a gym
hose roll training