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Tag: Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson, smiling man with short dark hair in emergency services uniform.

It takes a special person to be a volunteer firefighter

Raised in Crowsnest Pass, and having spent time away from the area as a young adult, Lt. Matthew Peterson has returned to make Pincher Creek his latest home base.

A former newspaper reporter and editor in British Columbia., the volunteer officer switched careers about 10 years ago to try his hand at mining near where he grew up.

“I actually started my emergency services training through the mine with the mine rescue program,” Matthew says. “I really liked the training. I really liked the things we were doing, so I decided to join the local fire department in Crowsnest Pass.”

When the family decided to move to Pincher Creek, Matthew approached fire Chief Pat Neumann to ask if he could become a lieutenant, a rank he had in Crowsnest Pass.

“So, I came over here and worked my way up, got to know everybody in the area and the people,” he says. “It’s been a good fit.”

Matthew admits it takes a special kind of person to be, not only a firefighter, but a volunteer firefighter.

“It’s a huge sacrifice that all the members make, having our families and commitments, our day jobs … to be able to put those things aside,” he says. “At times, we have to leave the family dinner, leave the family outing.”

It’s a decision he’s glad he made years ago, but it does come with an added responsibility.

 

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“You know, some of the guys might like to go out for a few beers after work, but you have to make a conscious choice, where that’s not an option, where I want to be on call for my community if they need me.”

Matthew’s favourite part about the role is the training that’s provided.

 “A lot of really cool things you get to learn, a lot of really good stuff,” he says. “Just being able to use those skills when you go out on calls, it’s huge … and it’s needed.”

And, what kid wouldn’t want to grow up driving a real fire truck?

Unlike some volunteer opportunities where there might be requirements going in, all the training is provided by the department at no cost to the firefighter. But having transferable skills certainly doesn’t hurt.

“In my case, I had my industrial first aid ticket and, of course, my mine rescue training,” Matthew says.

Is being a volunteer firefighter something he’d recommend to a friend or someone in the community? Absolutely!

“I mean, you see those big TV shows like Chicago Fire and such, but in reality it’s us. It’s the people next door, it’s your auto mechanic, it’s your coal miner, that are going to be coming to help you at the end of the day.”

Thank you, Matthew, and to all our firefighters for being there!

 

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Junior firefighter Ruan Peterson drops a firehose from a balcony.

Firefighting opportunities for Pincher Creek teens

Pincher Creek Emergency Services is offering students in grades 10 and up the opportunity to begin pursuing a career in emergency services through its junior firefighting program.

Students work toward acquiring their National Fire Protection Association 1001 Level 1 and 2 certifications, which identify the minimum job performance requirements for firefighters. 

They are also educated in hazardous-materials operations, designed to teach future first responders how to handle such materials and weapons of mass destruction.

“We are hoping to offer students interested in emergency services a chance to try it before investing their time and money,” says Lt. Matthew Peterson of PCES.

“This program, along with some real-life experience on calls, will offer students an advantage in the job market.”

Students attend practices every second and fourth Thursday of the month, from 7 to 9 p.m.. The curriculum features a mix of both theoretical and practical learning, with most sessions taking place at the Pincher Creek fire hall. 

 

Pig roast at wedding venue — the Cowley Lions Campground Stockade near Pincher Creek in southwestern Alberta.

 

Students will join the rest of the department to learn firefighting theory, which is everything from fire behaviour to building construction. They also learn the necessary hands-on skills required to tend to an emergency situation.

According to Matthew, while the majority of instruction and testing will be held in Pincher Creek, there will be the odd trip to “burn houses” out of town to practice live scenarios.

Students are not expected to finish the program by a set date. They can take three years if they prefer to take their time, or the department can assist older students in fast-tracking their way toward obtaining their certifications, which is more intense. 

The department is still working out the cost for a student to take the program, but Matthew suspects parents may only need to cover the $150 textbook fee. He adds that if a student really wants to participate but can’t because of cost, the department will look to find a way to make it work.

While no start date for the program has been released yet, Matthew will be visiting Matthew Halton High School, St. Michael’s School and Livingstone School to gauge student interest. 

For more information about the program or to schedule an orientation session, contact Matthew at 403-563-9197. Students will have to attend an orientation session with a parent or legal guardian to go over expectations and learn more about the courses.

 

 

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