Troy Adams, 15, and Landon Jackson, 16, are members of the Sunshine Valley Volunteer Fire Department, and both hope to be career firefighters one day. Sarah Gawdin/Hope Standard

Sunshine Valley teens burning with promise

Possibly the youngest in B.C., Sunshine Valley trains 15- and 16-year-old firefighters

Tucked in along the side of the Crowsnest highway at the base of the Hozameen mountain range is a small community fire hall that’s unlike any other. Besides being one of only two totally unfunded fire departments in the province, the Sunshine Valley Volunteer Fire Department (SVVFD) is home to two of the province’s youngest firefighters.

Troy Adams and Landon Jackson have been both volunteering with the SVVFD since before they could legally drive. And while the 15- and 16-year-old both say they have aspirations of becoming career firefighters, it was community connection that initially drew them to the hall a year ago.

“My dad was going on calls and he always told us the stories and I wanted to see what it was like in real life,” said Jackson, whose father joined the department three years ago when the family bought a cabin in the area.

RELATED: Program gives local youth the chance to fight fires and train to be firefighters

“I just learned (about the Juniors program) last year when my brother joined and didn’t know anyone,” said Adams, who decided to join to keep his brother company.

Revised and restarted last fall by chief Chris Terry, the Sunshine Valley Volunteer Fire Department’s juniors program was designed for teens between 15 and 18, and exposes them to the same level of training as adult members.

“Our juniors are treated exactly the same as every other firefighter,” said SVVFD lieutenant, Chris Farsky. “I’m always yelling at them (like I would any other).

“They respond to all calls and do everything the rest of us do, but we won’t expose them to anything traumatic, of course. But I’d say they do it all.”

“I think it’s cool—not a lot of (teenagers) are volunteer firefighters,” said Jackson, who originally wanted to be a paramedic, but now wants to pursue firefighting professionally.

“And I’ve (also) always wanted to be a firefighter, so I thought this was a really good opportunity,” Adams added.

But more than checking off their career goals, by being members of the SVVFD, both young men have not only learned how much helping others means to them on a personal level, but they’ve created lifetime connections within the hall’s nearly two-dozen members.

READ MORE: Highway 3 fire ‘could have been a lot worse’: Sunshine Valley fire chief

“I’ve seen this fire department change (during the past three years), and it’s become a really tight-knit group of men I trust (with my husband and son),” said Leslie-Jo Field, Jackson’s mom.

“I know everyone watches these two, which is very comforting to me, but it can still be scary (as a mom). I know he’s doing something he loves to do—and at some point you just have to let them go—but it’s nerve-wracking for sure!”

Located outside the boundaries for emergency response from Hope, the SVVFD is also now officially part of the Emergency Management BC response team, meaning they get paid for those calls, but is completely reliant on gaming grants and community generosity to keep its engines running.

“We’d been responding before, but only recently—last year (in 2018)—did we become part of the system where we’re called out and paid per call,” said lieutenant Fred Risbey, Jackson’s father.

“People don’t realize how expensive this stuff can be,” said Farsky, pointing at photographs of fire equipment. All firefighting equipment and protective gear comes with an expiry date, so it’s difficult to rely on used goods when the lifespan is so drastically reduced.

“If it weren’t for (local businesses and residents), this hall wouldn’t be standing here,” Farsky continued. And every penny counts, so there’s even a community drop-off spot for bottle donations, which brought in about $5,000 last year alone.

“We just can’t say enough about the community and how well they support us. And we’ve had some really positive significant changes over the past few years, and now we’re hosting training programs (like this one).”

READ MORE: Record numbers turned out for Sunshine Valley’s Winter Fest

Along side all members of the SVVFD, Adams and Jackson practice every second Saturday and opposing Thursday, and are taking part in the Justice Institute of B.C.’s Level 1 Firefighting program, which they’ll complete this winter.

Then, when they’re finished high school—this year for Jackson, next year for Adams—they’ll not only have boots-on-the-ground experience, but they’ll also have part of the training requirements for becoming a career firefighting.

“Both (young men) are extremely dedicated and have really stuck with this,” said Field. “It’s really admirable, and (all the hall members have) truly become a team, and a family for these two guys.

“And it shows the strength of the hall that they are so supported and never pushed aside.”

For more information about the Sunshine Valley Volunteer Fire Department, please visit their website at SVVFD.com. In case of an emergency, you can reach them via 9-1-1, or by calling their emergency pager at 604-869-2404.


 

@SarahGawdin on Twitter
SarahGawdin on Instagram
Sarah.Gawdin@HopeStandard.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Standing between (L-R) Fred Risbey and Chris Farsky, Landon Jackson, 16, and Troy Adams, 15, may just be B.C.’s youngest firefighters. Sarah Gawdin/Hope Standard

Just Posted

Jordan Naterer, 25, was last seen Saturday Oct. 10. He planned a hike in the Manning Park area, and has not been seen since. Photo Facebook.
Parents not giving up, after official search for Manning Park hiker suspended again

‘We are determined, but eventually the money is going to run out.’

Chilliwack-Kent MLA Laurie Throness watches the results on election night. The ex-Liberal’s tumultuous campaign and the narrow margin for victory ahead of the mail-in ballot count leaves the future of the riding’s seat in limbo for at least the next week. (Facebook/Laurie Throness)
B.C. VOTES 2020: Future for incumbent Throness uncertain as riding awaits results

Chilliwack-Kent candidate hopeful, resigned waiting on final count

File Photo
COVID-19 outbreak declared at Agassiz Seniors Community

First declared outbreak in Agassiz-Harrison since pandemic began

The family and friends of Abbotsford resident Kaitlyn Cassels have launched a GoFundMe for her after she suffered serious injuries following a bad fall on Thursday night. (Submitted)
GoFundMe created for Abbotsford woman after horrible fall

19-year-old Kaitlyn Cassels suffers many injuries after falling 27 feet off Agassiz-Rosedale Bridge

A pair of crashes on Highway 1 between Abbotsford and Chilliwack have snarled traffic in both directions.
Pair of crashes snarl traffic between Abbotsford and Chilliwack

Traffic delays eastbound, large westbound backup

FILE – Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides the latest update on the COVID-19 pandemic in the province during a press conference in the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, October 22, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. shatters COVID-19 records with 817 weekend cases; masks now expected indoors

Three people have died over the past three reporting periods

Graphic on promo material for Best Buy Canada’s Tech Wonderland event.
Drive-through ‘Tech Wonderland’ coming to PNE site a few weeks before Christmas

Best Buy Canada-backed ‘holiday’ event to raise money for charity

Aaliyah Rosa. File photo
Crown says murder of seven-year-old in Langley was planned, deliberate

The trial of KerryAnn Lewis began Monday in New Westminster

B.C. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry. (B.C. government photo)
Unnamed school in Fraser Health region closed due to COVID-19

Closure announced by Dr. Bonnie Henry during daily briefing

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

RCMP have released more details regarding what led up to an arrest caught on video in Williams Lake Sunday, Oct. 26. (Facebook video screenshot)
Review launched after ‘high-risk, multi-jurisdictional’ chase, arrest in Williams Lake

RCMP launching a full review and code of conduct investigation

(Pxfuel)
B.C. limits events in private homes to household, plus ‘safe six’ amid COVID-19 surge

Henry issued a public health order limiting private gatherings to one household, plus a group of ‘safe six’ only

B.C. Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson speaks during a drive-in car rally campaign stop at a tour bus operator, in Delta, Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Andrew Wilkinson stepping down as B.C. Liberal leader

Will stay on until the next party leader is chosen

Most Read