Aussie trains for dream job at Lakeland

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October 5, 2015
Word of mouth spread to the land Down Under and caught the attention of James Fidler. The Australian is part of the Class of 2015 at Lakeland ETC and is ready to pursue his dream job: firefighting.
James Fidler
Fidler was among the 24 students in platoon 3 to graduate from the firefighter NFPA 1001 program on Friday, Oct. 3. 

“This has been a great experience,” says Fidler. “You obviously do a lot of theory in the program and then they put you in a practical situation where you see it happening. It really sinks in and connects. Working as a team and getting everyone on the team to do their individual tasks to accomplish the goal has been a good challenge.”

The 21-year-old is no stranger to challenges. At the age of 17 Fidler enlisted in the Australian army, after which he spent two years as a volunteer municipal firefighter and then became a wildland firefighter to gain more experience.

“Australia’s wildfires are massive so it was very intense. One of them burned 13,300 hectares in six hours,” says Fidler, whose journey from Victoria, Australia to the Emergency Training Centre in Vermilion, Alta. began in 2014. While working alongside a Lakeland-trained firefighter in Australia, Fidler set his sights on Lakeland.

“My mate from New Zealand used to work with the Kananaskis fire department and they sent him here (Lakeland) to do his training. He recommended Lakeland as the place to go,” says Fidler, who arrived in Canada in July and shortly after started the program.
James Fidler
“It’s been crazy fun. When we started the real firefighting scenarios in our seventh week we started with structural fires. We did scenarios in the smoke tower, run after run, which was awesome.”

Listing the “big propane tree” and the “widow maker” as highlights from Lakeland’s industrial firefighting scenarios, Fidler completed approximately 150 hours of live scenario training in the 12-week firefighter program.

 “You have to really think on your feet,” he says. “Our instructors are great. They are challenging us with each scenario. Before each one they do a bit of a walk through. As we start to get a bit better, they step back and we step up and we make our own decisions.”

Coming from a family of firefighters – Fidler’s grandfather was a firefighter for 60 years in the same department and his uncle is a professional firefighter – Fidler is excited to start his Canadian firefighting career.

“I definitely want to work in municipal firefighting, it’s what I always wanted to get into,” he says. “Wildland firefighting was a great experience and now with my Lakeland education, I am ready.

“This is my dream job. It’s what I have always wanted to do.”  

Photos: Top photo, during his eighth week of the program Fidler (red helmet) took his turn as captain and led his team through live industrial fire scenarios at the Emergency Training Centre. Bottom photo, Fidler graduated from the 12-week firefighter program on Oct. 3. His goal is to work in municipal firefighting in Canada.
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Agribusiness Class of 2006

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Vice President, Environmental Services, Vertex.

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Business studies, Class of 2016.

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2nd year UT student, 2017-18

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I have loved my experience at Lakeland. The teachers are personable, and quick to share about their own experiences. They encouraged me to run with my own ideas and see what would happen; they got excited about my designs, which gave me the confidence to do my best and be more creative.

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Class of 2016, Interior Design student.

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Animal Health Technology, Class of 2016.

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The friendships I made, the experiences we were provided with, and the welcoming atmosphere of the Vermilion Campus made my time at Lakeland extremely valuable and memorable

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Animal Science & Agribusiness, Class of 2016.

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Lakeland College was a learning environment unlike any other school. It allows students to learn beyond the classroom, and staff and faculty genuinely want to see students succeed. It’s a place where you can feel comfortable asking questions and where everyone has a place and fits in.

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Agribusiness, Class of 2016.

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The instructors were the highlight of my time at Lakeland. It made a huge impact on my college experience to have instructors who challenged, encouraged, and believed in me.

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Child & Youth Care, Class of 2016.

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At the beginning of my first year, I was really stressed out as I felt I had no artistic ability. But with the instruction and time put in by the interior design faculty, I was able to develop my artistic abilities. Now I am fully confident in and exceeding well in the artistic side of this career!

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Interior Design Technology, Class of 2016.

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I just feel like you get the best education at Lakeland, especially from the time that the instructors can actually spend with you. I like the class sizes too – everything’s been great about my Lakeland experience.

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Heavy Equipment Technician, Class of 2016.

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Agribusiness, class of 2014, former Miss Rodeo Canada.

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I feel the professors at Lakeland actually prepared me for the profession. It’s impossible to be just a number here when there are 12 students in all of your classes. When the school advertised small class sizes, they actually meant it.

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Real Estate Appraisal and Assessment, Class of 2016.

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HOPE Power Engineering, Class of 2017.

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Accounting Major, Class of 2016.

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All the hands-on learning was great and very helpful once placed into the industry. Having clients leave with a smile after each service assured me that I was in the right field of work. I would recommend Lakeland to anyone.

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Esthetician, Class of 2016.

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The professors care so much about their students at Lakeland and are able to know each and every one of them by name, so much so that they are able to nominate a ton of students for awards.

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University Transfer, Class of 2016.

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They really put you in the lead at Lakeland. Lakeland cares about its students, empowers them, and gives them opportunities to achieve their goals. I don’t see Lakeland as a stepping stone or a first step – I see it as a bridge and an integral part of my education.

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University Transfer, Class of 2017.

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I wanted to get experience in the field of assessment as it would give me exposure to what it’s like day to day. It was an invaluable experience as I find it hard to imagine what it would be like working in a particular field or area until I’m doing the work.

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Real estate appraisal and assessment, Class of 2017.

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Esthetician, Class of 2017.

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It’s going to be a lot easier to start our first jobs having this experience and having been able to build our confidence in the campus spa. I love that we get to have this opportunity.

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Esthetician, Class of 2017.