Firefighting senior earns CSRD's 150th ceritifcation

Mike Thoms

Many New Year's Resolutions don't last past January, but the Columbia Shuswap Regional District's Fire Services is celebrating the completion of 2020's goal and the accomplishments of a 78-year-old firefighter who helped them reach it. 

In January 2020, the CSRD set a goal of getting 150 of its firefighters from 13 departments across the region fully certified to the BC professional standard.

Once the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and training opportunities were temporarily shut down, reaching the goal was in doubt. But the CSRD resumed training on Zoom and continued in-person education later in the year with COVID-19 protocols in place. Numerous CSRD firefighters put in a tremendous effort and were able to complete their certification, which includes both bookwork and hands-on training courses.

And late in December, on the last day of the challenge, Swansea Point firefighter Mike Thoms, 78, completed his certification, becoming the 150th CSRD firefighter to reach the standard. 

Thoms has been a firefighter for 13 years, since making the decision to retire and move to Swansea Point. But Thoms' retirement was not about kicking back and relaxing at the beach.

"We made a new home here and I wanted to give something back. No use just sitting around wasting my time. If the fire department figured I was good enough for them at my age, then why not become a firefighter?" he quipped. 

During his time as a Swansea Point firefighter, Thoms worked his way slowly through the courses, including the physically challenging live fire exterior training module. 

"I'm still in a daze that I'm a certified firefighter. Not in my wildest dreams did I think I could do something like that," he said. "I'm so proud to have had the opportunity and to have people who encouraged me that I could do this."

Thoms' pioneered the role of the rehab officer at the CSRD, monitoring the health and safety of firefighters when they are battling blazes. He worked with Sicamous paramedics to be trained in monitoring vital signs and blood pressure, and has gone on to help train rehab officers for other CSRD departments. 

"I love what I do, so until I get really old, I'm not going to stop," said Thoms, who encourages anyone with a desire to help their community to check out their local fire department. "As long as I'm capable, I will keep going."