PENHOLD – Becoming a firefighter involves hours of learning and training.
The Penhold Fire Department is holding an open house for its cadet program at the Penhold fire hall from 6:30 to 8 p.m. on Sept. 12.
The cadet program, now in its fourth year, began in 2015 and is open to Chinook’s Edge School Division students in grades 10, 11 and 12.
“We have some cadets currently in the program. This is the first time we’ve done it as an open house,” said Jim Pendergast, Penhold fire chief. “We used to go to the schools and talk with (students) at an assembly, but we decided we would do an open house so the parents can come out and they can ask questions.”
The open house will include a presentation on the cadet program, refreshments, a tour of the fire hall, and a chance to meet and talk with Penhold firefighters.
“This way students and potential cadets feel more comfortable asking us questions as opposed to in an assembly with a few hundred kids, where they might be a little intimidated asking a question,” he said.
The program takes about two or three years to complete and helps prepare future firefighters, noted Pendergast, adding the program also contributes to cadets' high school education. Each cadet must finish Grade 12 before they can graduate from the program.
“They also get school credits as well, every year,” said Pendergast, noting cadet programs differ in other fire departments.
“The City of Edmonton and the City of Calgary fire departments do it in a different format (because they’re bigger departments),” explained Pendergast. “We do it a little differently, with the support of ATCO Gas. They (have) supported us in this program since it began.
“Our programs have been very successful. All of our graduates have become members of the Penhold Fire Department,” he added. “When they graduate from the cadet program they graduate as a certified firefighter.”
The cadet program is coordinated by Penhold firefighter Brittany Evans and covers a variety of topics including how to fight different types of fires, learning about fire equipment and fire trucks, learning about rescue operations, and participating in public education events and fire prevention activities.
“They also learn how to do rescues in vehicle accidents and other (types of) incidents," said Pendergast. "Cadets come to the Wednesday night practices like all of our firefighters do and they participate in courses throughout the year that we put on for the firefighters as well.”
Interested individuals can attend the open house on Sept 12. For more information on the cadet program, contact the Penhold Fire Department at 403-886-4553.