The Regional District of North Okanagan’s three fire departments are all looking to hire paid-on-call firefighters, and a teenage Lumby firefighter is sharing her experiences on the job to encourage others to apply.
Olive Butler, 18, has been with the Lumby and District Fire Department since March 2021. In just 10 months she completed coursework on exterior firefighting, auto extrication, rope rescue and first medical responder training.
She’s already put this training to use in numerous situations: motor vehicle incidents, brush fires and medical emergencies.
“The first year of being a paid-on-call firefighter is quite fast-paced since there is a large base of knowledge and training required to respond to the variety of calls that we receive,” said Butler. “I am the type of person that always loves to be learning and applying it to the real world, so this position has been a very fulfilling addition to my life.”
In a paid-on-call hall like Lumby’s, members still have their regular jobs. Butler is a lifeguard, and she could imagine how her first aid training would be useful in her role as a firefighter.
What she didn’t expect was that the same could be said about her experience as an entrepreneur.
“I have a small business making and selling cosmetics. As a business owner, I have learned how to be adaptable, make strategic decisions quickly, and be confident with my choices. I have found that this translates to the scene of an emergency since you have to assess the situation and recall what you learned in training in a matter of moments, all while following the direction of the Incident Commander,” she said.
“People have skills that they may not know would be an asset to the fire department. Strength and stamina have their place, but we need a well-rounded group to handle different roles,” Butler added.
One of Butler’s favourite things about working at the fire department is the camaraderie.
“Everyone wants to lift you up and help you grow. I can always ask questions and know that I’ll be met with a genuine interest in helping me learn.”
Applications are being accepted at the Lumby and District Fire Department, the Silver Star Fire Department and BX-Swan Lake Fire Rescue. Because paid-on-call firefighters must respond to the fire hall in a timely manner, applicants must live within or nearby the fire protection zone.
For more information and to view the application form, visit www.rdno.ca/firefighting.