Students put to the test at Kelowna firefighter boot camp

A group of Okanagan teens learned what it takes to become a firefighter on Wednesday.

More than 70 students from School District 23 participated in a boot camp hosted by the Kelowna Fire Department.

"We kind of simulate ... what we would put potential applicants through when they try out with the fire department" said Training Officer Glenn Paley. "So we have things like lifting hose, dragging hose, climbing ladders to height. Basically we're just trying to give them a taste of what it would be like to be a firefighter."

Paley himself joined the fire department as an on-call member in his twenties before becoming a career firefighter. 

"It's like a second family here. Everybody likes the exciting part of the job but there's also a lot of down time where you work together with others around the hall and there's a lot of comradery involved in that part of it."

Chloe Hauca was among the students taking part. The high school senior already has plans to become a firefighter sometime after graduation.

"My main inspiration was my dad. He is a paid on-call firefighter and he has been since about 1999." said Hauca. "There's also the fact that firefighters are the brave men or women rushing in to save life and that kind of inspired me."

Demand for firefighters is high following two of the worst wildfire seasons in the province's history. 

"Even though we're employees of Kelowna, it's not uncommon for us to get deployed in other areas of the province as well just because they need so many resources when these wildfires happen in the summer." said Paley.

He's hoping the boot camp will inspire a new generation of firefighters.