Weyburn's first junior firefighter is now officially fully certified. Jola Bell-Erb began hanging with the firefighters when she was 15 years old and has been a Paid On Call Firefighter since 2020.
"When I first started it was just watching seeing what they do and then I would participate in the minimal things, and then as time went on I would be more involved and I was too young to do anything, but since I turned 18, I was able to actually be officially on the department, not just a junior firefighter," she shared. "Now that I have all my training I'm like able to go into burning buildings."
She said she got her chance to do just that a couple of months ago.
"It was right after my my 1001 practical, and it was the week after, the kitchen was involved and we went in, I was the first one on scene so they sent me in. It's pretty exciting."
Not only does Jola also work as a Pharmacy Assistant, she said she's also seriously considering a career as a Firefighter.
"First responding has always been my dream, so I'm always training, getting certificates and just seeing what there is out there," shared Bell-Erb.
She commented on the culture at the Fire Hall with the new Chief Trent Lee and the new dog, Jessi. Read more HERE.
"It's definitely changing for the good, there are many new things happening and he dog is definitely a great addition to our family."
Fire Chief Trent Lee said Jola is very dedicated to the job.
"She's always one of the first ones here at the hall, rarely ever misses any type of incident or call that we perform, and she's always heavily involved in our training and meetings," he noted. "It's a fantastic thing to see somebody come up through the ranks and or come up through the schooling and start off as a junior firefighter in the junior firefighter program and then work their way up to become a qualified firefighter."
Lee said the junior firefighters get a unique experience, acting as observers at first, but if they want to become Career Firefighters there is more to it.
"Depends on what city the firefighter is interested in applying for. There's different requirements for different municipalities. Larger cities usually require their firefighters to be Paramedics, so that is a big requirement in some of the cities, as that's going away for training."
While Weyburn doesn't require firefighters to be paramedics, the training for a firefighter never ends.
"Even when you become a chief, there's there's more training. Starting off, you get your 1001 basic firefighter level one and level 2. Then you work your way up through your hazmat 1072 level one and level 2, which is your operations and basic knowledge. From there you can become a hazmat technician, which is another fairly involved training program as well. There's fire investigation, fire inspection, there's public education, there's fire officer, there's all kinds of training that one can keep going and working towards to expand their knowledge and and their skills."
Lee added the Volunteer Firefighter program is one he plans to bring back this year.
"It's a fantastic program and I always look forward to having new recruits coming and seeing if this is something that they want to pursue as as either a career or something they want to do on the side to assist in their community."