Young NWT residents are being invited to a summer boot camp to find out if fighting wildfires is the career for them.

A five-day bootcamp for residents from the ages of 16 and 18 will be held July 22nd to 26th for young people interested in firefighting and forest management. Held in the Sandy Lake area near the Pine Point mine site, the training is put on by the fire service to encourage a new generation of wildland firefighters to join the NWTs ranks.

Manager of fire operations Richard Olsen says the training will give participants a sense of fire behaviour, fire safety and policies. “Then they’ll get into the nitty gritty of learning how to use pumps, set out a hose, running water through the hose in different configurations. You learn the different hand tools, how to create a fire line, how to work around aircraft and heavy equipment and then how to maintain camps and to live and work in the bush as a firefighter.”

The training is mandatory for anyone interested in working during the NWT’s fire season. Only those 18 and older are allowed along a fire line to fight an active wildfire, however, younger people can get involved as a warehouse, camp or support staff.

As the five-day training is the first of its kind open to youth, it will be limited to areas of the Deh Cho, South Slave and North Slave accessible by road. Olsen says he wants to expand this to other parts of the NWT for the next training.

The bootcamp is primarily meant to generate interest in joining a fire crew, but Olsen also wants to inspire young people in careers such as GIS mapping, wildlife management and environmental management.

The deadline to apply for the bootcamp is July 12th at 5 p.m. Those interested should apply at their local ENR office. Travel, meals and accomodation are all paid for, and participants receive a training wage.