Gabriola's Firefighters: Syreeta Caron

Jane Reddington

Sounder Staff

Tuesday, September 20 2016

Before Syreeta Caron moved to Gabriola five years ago she worked with the Coast Guard Unit 35 in Sidney, BC, doing marine rescue. Then she moved to Northern BC and did five years with the Mackenzie Search and Rescue. The Gabriola Fire Department was the closest thing for Caron, whose strong sense of community was instilled by her parents. 

“It takes a person that likes adrenalin and is a Type A personality.” Caron has spent almost three and a half years as a firefighter on Gabriola and is also the storefront manager at Island Pharmacy. She’s not sure if people know that Gabriola’s volunteer firefighters also have employment in the community.

Caron is one of five women on the fire department among 19 men. “I really do like helping people and giving back. We’re making the worst day of someone’s life just a little better.”

When she was a child, Caron was involved in commercial fishing and says it was a natural fit to do marine rescue. She admits she has left family dinners to respond to a page. “I remember once someone saw me, in my mask, and said they thought that one set of eyes looked awfully female. It feels good when someone thanks me afterwards.”

Caron says the fire department on Gabriola is good at figuring out how to do things and how to overcome problems. “There’s no one else to call in if we need help. We’re it because we live on an island and we have the ferry,” unlike communities like Coombs where they may have four or five other fire departments respond to a call. 

As the name suggests, the Gabriola Volunteer Fire Department is made up entirely of volunteers from the Gabriola community. The department is currently recruiting new members and there is a training session for new members planned to start in January. Both the north and south fire halls are seeking new members. Log on to www.gabriolafire.ca for more information (click on Apply), or call Fire Chief Rick Jackson at 250-247-9677.

Fire Prevention Week will be from October 9-15, 2016.

Fire departments across Canada and the United States work to raise public awareness about the dangers of fire and how to prevent it. The US National Fire Protection Association originally established the week to commemorate the 1871 Great Chicago Fire which destroyed more than 17,400 structures and killed more than 250 people.