Six weeks ago, 10 firefighting students from Conestoga College spent a week in Wellesley learning what it takes to be part of a fire crew outside of the classroom setting. On Tuesday night in the Wellesley council chambers, two of those students – along with their program coordinator Brad Kuneman – returned to thank the township for their support and to donate $1,000 back to Wellesley in recognition of the partnership between the township and the college.
“It was a great opportunity to really further our education outside of the classroom and our text books,” said Kevin Collins, one of the firefighting students in Wellesley from Dec. 6-10.
“We were filling (water) reservoirs, cleaning the trucks, cleaning the halls, and testing hose,” continued Matt Bloom. “And we had the opportunity to see a fire and find out what it takes to put it out while not having the luxuries of a hydrant right beside you.”
The students filled three local reservoirs, totaling more than 140,000 gallons of water during the week. They also tested every piece of equipment in the stations as well as cleaned and maintained that equipment, which saved the volunteer crews enormous amounts of time and will allow them to spend more of their time on training, said township fire chief Andrew Lillico.
“It has to be done and it is an important task, so thanks for helping us with that,” Lillico said. He also said that having the students around took him and the other members of the Wellesley fire team back to their roots as firefighters, and reminded them to take each project that week one step at a time to ensure their directions were clear.
“There are a lot of things we take for granted that just happen on the fire team, so when he have the students here we say ‘lets just slow down a step.’ It keeps us in touch with the everyday operations.”
The fire chief said in a subsequent interviw that the township’s fire advisory team will have to decide on how the $1,000 donation will be used. Last year’s donation went towards updating their pagers, and this year’s donation will also go towards something to directly benefit the firefighters again, be it training or equipment.
Coun. Jim Olender extended a thank-you to the students for their time and efforts.
“I certainly hope to see this partnership continue on in the future because it’s a great experience for you people, and it’s a great help for our township and our fire departments. Thanks a lot and good luck.”