Colin Saurette had a pretty big week - he received his Langley Township firefighter badge on Oct. 3 and got married Oct. 5. Saurette is one of eight men who have just completed their probationary year with the Township Fire Department and Thursday was a chance to celebrate. For Saurette, it's a pretty big mile marker on the journey he's planned for his life.
"This has always been the plan from the get go," he said. "My old man - I grew up with him in the fire service. There's a lot of pride in being able to meet this goal."
After being a volunteer firefighter in Squamish for six years, the 28-year-old worked at the now-closed Kitsilano Coast Guard base.
"I came from 10 years working as a rescue specialist with the Coast Guard," he said.
He's thrilled that he was able to get a spot with the Township where he said it's still affordable to live and raise a family.
"I was excited about the Township of Langley because looking at the community, it's a growing part of the Valley," he explained.
Mike Duthie is the one person in the contingent who opted to go the inspection route.
After about a decade as a Township building inspector, he entered the fire service for a new career path.
While maybe not as exciting as the suppression side, the inspection work is vital.
Duthie and others in inspections are the details people. They supply the fire crews with important information during emergencies using high tech means "so when they're arriving on scene, they know that's going on."
In the past fire crews were expected to show up at a scene and deal with whatever they encountered.
Now at a fire scene, information is sent to them about the layout of the structure, where the entrances are located, details about sprinklers and what contents may be inside, what fire resources such as hydrants are in the area and more.
Duthie explained that the inspection side also looks after building and infrastructure inspections in the Township, and works closely with the Township building department.
The new crew are Saurette, Alastair Ohs, Garett Steeple, Rob Kabaroff, Dave Pare, Cody Hopkins, Jhim Burwell and Duthie.
During the probationary period, the participants are stationed in various halls, learning from the crews.
By the time they've been accepted into probation, it's a good bet they're going the distance as a firefighter.
The Township currently has 82 full-time suppression firefighters and another 100 paid-call firefighters. There are also about seven firefighters who work in the inspection branch which also handles public education.
"We believe in you," said Chief Stephen Gamble at the badge ceremony. "Now it's your job to show we made the right choice."
Firefighter Garrett Steeple spoke on behalf of the eight.
"We come to our dream job from a number of different backgrounds," he noted. But they all value being part of the firefighter family and thanked their colleagues and their own families for supporting their dream.
He also used the speech as a chance to have some fun.
Steeple said the newbies learned some key lessons during the year, such as keeping track of gear at an event scene, otherwise the others will find unique and novel and usually embarassing ways to return it to them.
"We learned a joke at our expense is a good sign," he said, noting it means acceptance.
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