‘Dream come true’ for new full-timers at Hall #1

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

A couple of vacancies in the Regional Fire Service have been filled. These are full-time employees, ready, willing and able to make a career out of emergency response. Their names are Riley Paschal and Zach Pavcek.

Starting with Paschal, he’s been on the job since Jan. 17 of this year.

“Phenomenal,” he says, in answer to the question, ‘How’s it going so far?’ “I love it! I couldn’t have asked for a better spot to end up in.”

How so?

The variety of calls in the job is one of the things that makes it so interesting, he says.

“We’re it, for this neck of the woods.”

As an example of the variety he mentioned, Paschal talks about a call just the day before that took a crew up to an oil tank fire near Utikuma Lake.

On the other end of the spectrum, “I’ve already had the experience of climbing the ladder to its full length to rescue a cat out of a tree. It’s a dream come true!”

Born and raised in Prince George, B.C., Paschal is a newcomer to Slave Lake, and seems to like it here just fine. It reminds him a lot of home, he says – the topography, the industrial side of things. Not to mention opportunities for the “outdoorsy” stuff he loves to do. He and his girlfriend Kennedy, who works as an EMT, have recently bought a house in town.

“We’re settling down,” he says.

Zach Pavcek ‘grew up fire’ as the saying goes. It’s in the family, and he has wanted to be a firefighter about as far back as he can remember. As soon as he could, he got into the Junior Firefighter program, which is when he was in Grade 8.

Pavcek became a regular volunteer out of Hall #1 Slave Lake also as soon as he was able.
“About five years now,” he says.

That led to the next logical step, which was applying for a full-time paid position when the chance arose. He’s been on the force in that role since March 16 of this year.

“I’m already learning a ton of things,” he says, “cramming a lot of courses in.”

Asked what he likes best about firefighting, Pavcek says “the adrenaline.” Also, “helping people, and all the learning experiences you get.”

He also mentions the tank fire call of the day before, as an example of a learning experience. You can’t just rush off to such an incident unprepared. Training and equipment and materials (buckets of foam, for example) come into it.

“It was a bit out there,” he says. Such calls happen “once or twice a year, if that,” but you have to be prepared when they do happen.

Outside of the job, Pavcek says playing hockey is a big thing for him. So are camping and fishing, and anything on the lake.

“Slave Lake area has got a lot,” he says.

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