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Students train as firefighters with MNRF

Students kicked off a week of training with firefighter fitness testing at Hammarskjold High School.

THUNDER BAY - Making a living in the outdoors has always been the goal of Kevin King Jr.

“Growing up in the bush… You learn a lot about the bush. You live by it. You respect it,” said Hammarskjold's Grade 12 student.

On Tuesday, King Jr. got the chance to see what his future might hold courtesy of the Ministry of the Natural Resources and Forestry, who hosted a training session at Hammarskjold High School.

“My legs were burning. My feet were kind of sore. It was pretty intense.”

Students performed the WFX-Fit test, a timed circuit that simulates the demands of firefighters.

“No matter what province you fight fire, you’re going to need to do this test,” said Jamie Scrimger, crew leader for aviation and forest fire emergency services.

The school’s outdoor education class is a newly offered credit for Grade 9 students, but also includes Grade 12 students who are involved in a leadership capacity.

“It’s similar to a physical education class,” teacher Lisa McLeod said. “We’re often doing physical-based activities, and we’re also outdoor-based activities. We try and have a focus on careers that are outdoor-based.”

The credit is brand new to Hammarskjold and is designed to offer career paths that combine physical activity with employment opportunities.

McLeod, who worked with the MNRF for nine years before becoming a teacher, helped establish the partnership between Hammarskjold and the Ministry.

“It’s something you can do right out of high school,” she said. “There are different career options that can stem off of that, but there are also long-term careers in it as well.”

King Jr. is one of three students in the course originally from Gull Bay First Nation. He says the MNRF has always attracted his interest.

“I know a lot of people in the MNRF, it’s a really great opportunity,” he said. “My Dad is a heavy machines operator and he’s always told me, ‘You’re going to work in the bush,’”

King Jr. says he’ll attempt to acquire his forest fire fighting certification after graduating in June, but for the time being, he’s cherishing his time as a leader.

“They gave us an opportunity for these young guys in this leadership class. It’s really great seeing kids like this.”

Students will participate in training throughout the week.

Michael Charlebois

About the Author: Michael Charlebois

Michael Charlebois was born and raised in Thunder Bay, where he attended St. Patrick High School and graduated in 2015. He attends Carleton University in Ottawa where he studies journalism.
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