College of the Rockies Kimberley campus growing and thriving

Is there a course you’d like to take? Let them know

Graduating class of firefighters from the COTR Fire Training Program in Kimberley.

Graduating class of firefighters from the COTR Fire Training Program in Kimberley.

When someone mentions the College of the Rockies, do you think of the Kimberley campus or does your mind automatically skip some 30 kilometres down the road to Cranbrook?

Doug Clovechok, who now manages the Kimberley COTR campus as well as the campus in Invermere, thinks that too often the answer is the latter.

“There’s not a lot of awareness of the college’s presence in Kimberley and we’d like to change that,” Clovechok said.

The Kimberley campus is located at the former Blarchmont School building.

One of the first things that needs to be done, and will be done, Clovechok says, is better signage.

“The College has just gone through a  rebranding process and Kimberley will get a new sign.”

But, signage aside, there is a lot going on at the Kimberley campus; many different options in online and continuing education, and what is perhaps the COTR flagship program in Kimberley, the Fire Training Program. The programs is delivered in partnership with the City of Kimberley.

The Fire Training Program has two components, the academic, which is taught out of the Kimberley Fire Hall. This part of the program trains firefighters, who graduate ready to join any fire department. It runs from September to the end of February yearly and is so successful that there are plans to expand it.

The other part of contract training for municipalities across Canada and even worldwide.

“It’s a valuable program to the city,” Clovechok said. “We want to grow the fire program.”

And it appears that will happen. There are currently 32 names on the waiting list for the next session.

Perhaps one of the most appealing aspects for students is that instruction takes place in a working fire hall.

Though the students don’t go out on calls, they do get to experience being in a fire hall setting, says program instructor Jack Paterson, himself a retired City of Kimberley firefighter.

“That’s what sets us apart from other programs, and I think leads students to choose us,” Paterson said. “To have an opportunity to be around the fire department and see the activity when a call comes in — it makes quite a difference. It gives them a taste of what it will be like. It’s a real plus for the program.”

The other big plus is that the Kimberley Fire Department has access to a building on the Teck fertilizer property on Jim Ogilvie Way that they use for fire simulation work.

Students who graduate the Fire Training Program are certified to work at any fire department.

Wendy Moore takes care of the compliance part of the program at the Kimberley campus. The program is in compliance with National Fire Protection Association standards.

“We are an accredited organization,” Clovechok said. “We are a Pro Board North American institution and we are proud of that.”

The contract side works with individual fire departments who require training, which can be accessed online or by instructors sent out from COTR Kimberley. The program also sends out invigilators for exams. A lot of work is being done in the North West Territories  through a contract through the territory government.

“We are excited to see it evolve,” Moore said.

COTR Kimberley offers numerous continuing education courses, and is eager to find out what other courses Kimberley residents may be interested in.

“We offer birth doolah courses, special event training, Teaching English as a Second Language, hunter training, Level I First Aid, Food Safe,” said Trudy Miller, who coordinates the continuing ed program.

“If it’s something Kimberley really wants, let us know. We’ll try to find an instructor,” Clovechok said. “If you want to learn Spanish, we’ll see if we can make it happen. There are 7,000 odd people in Kimberley. We want to know what you’d like.”

You can keep up with what courses are being offered on the COTR Kimberley FaceBook page.