Since this is my first write-up for the People Profiles I wanted to take a minute to say thank-you to everyone who has nominated someone. This first profile is of two women, one who I know personally and admire for her courage and energy (Jasmine), and the other is a woman that was nominated by Jasmine for the efforts she puts into the firehall (Heather).
The Vanderhoof Fire Rescue runs based on volunteers. The men and women involved have such a huge impact on the community through their efforts and I wanted to say thank-you and bring some attention to them. Knowing a couple of the volunteers, I have seen (from a distance) the dedication and commitment these individuals make when they sign up.
Jasmine is a force to be reckoned with. She joined the team two and a half years ago and was awarded Rookie of the year. If firefighting wasn't enough her hobbies include: mountain biking, dirtbiking, snowmobiling, volunteer ski-partol, skydiving, rock climbing, and hiking. Good luck keeping up with this babe.
Before the session I had them answer some questions about themselves and why they became firefighters. Jasmine's inspiration to join the team was based off personal experience.
"We had a house fire when I was 11, I remember how much I admired what they were doing to try and mitigate the damage for our family. Circa 10 years later I was having dinner with my friend Tawnie and mentioned to her father that I'd been interested in joining, he made sure I picked up my application package that next day!"
Now that she's in the team that sentiment has carried through. Her favourite part of the day is "[making] a difference on someone's worst day. We can't change whats happened, but we can help mitigate the damage after the fact."
Heather joined the Vanderhoof Fire Rescue team in March of 2019. She "always wanted to be a first responder, the person that is there, ready to help someone on what is possibly their worst day." Last year was her time to embrace that feeling as felt like the time was right and her kids were old enough for her to start her volunteer career. She's also community focused and feels strongly that you should give back to your community.
Like Jasmine, Heather is a boss! She also received Rookie of the Year last month and their awards banquet (Whooo girl!!). Aside from having three kids to keep her busy she also enjoys mountain biking, trail running, CrossFit❤️, kayaking and some good old exploring with her troops. And watch out Kamloops! Her and a few VFR members are tackling the FireGit Games in Kamloops this fall.
Oh man. There are so many kinds of strength in the world and these two have it all. I imagine it's a built strength, encouraged by the other members of the hall, but it is impressive none the less. They have mental strength to react to worst case situations in a calm, thought out manner. They have the emotional strength to put the needs of others above the needs of themselves, and they have the physical strength.
The hall doesn't really have a gym but they do have workout equipment and they use it! Moving their wildfire/brush truck (which was supposed to be named Brush 11 but was accidentally named Bush 11) out of the bay they brought in some weights and showed off their strength.
P.S. That set up weighs 85 pounds. Sometimes I feel strong because I occasionally go to the gym and I run; I can't even lift it above my waist...I tried. I can deadlift it, but I can't lift it up. These women showed me the strength that they are capable of and that all of us are capable of if we apply the effort. That is one of the things they have learned through being part of the team. Strength comes from accepting that we can do more and having the courage to try.
When asked their favourite part of being part of the Vanderhoof Fire Rescue team they both echoed the same sentiment. It's like having a second family. They support each other, motivate each other, and work together to get a job done no matter the time of day or night. And apparently the Chief sometimes cooks breakfast! Apron and all. I love breakfast....
I don't know the Chief, Ian Leslie, but I heard nothing but good things about him yesterday. Ian if you read this, thank you for letting me come into your hall, learn about your team and the work you do, and see even just a small aspect of the family mentality you have at the hall. If not for the fact that I am all wrong to be a firefighter (I'm terrified of fire, heights, and drowning) I would love to be part of this family you all have created.
On that note, I asked Jasmine and Heather what they thought the personality traits were of people who would be a good fit to join the team. Jasmine: "Everyone on our hall all brings different traits to the table, be it medical experience, mechanical background, etc. But having a passion for wanting to help people is one thing we all have in common! And I think that's the most important trait to bring to the table."
Heather: "Someone who is fit and likes to be active, has a pretty good sense of humour and enjoys working in a close team environment."
As we did the photos Jasmine and Heather explained the whats and hows of their job. We covered a lot, from the strips on the helmets symbolizing a hierarchy to where they sit in the trucks, why the trucks are numbered as they are, and how the teams work together on a call out. It was incredibly fascinating and I have an even deeper respect for the team at Vanderhoof Fire Rescue. I didn't really think that was possible but it is.
We covered the way the hoses on the trucks work, which trucks are designed for which tasks, the best seat to sit in on callouts, and what the jaws of life really are. Spoiler alert: they aren't just one big pair of scissors.
Thank-you to Jasmine and Heather for taking the time to answer all my questions and letting me photograph you as the badass women you are, all geared up or lifting heavy weights.
Thank-you Ian for letting this come to life.
Most importantly, thank you to the Vanderhoof Fire Rescue Team for all of your efforts, every single day.
To anyone reading this who isn't part of the hall, they are staffed by volunteers. If you think you might even be remotely interested in joining you should talk to a member. Every one I have met is passionate about what they do as part of the team. It's inspiring and something worth being apart of.