DC students help burn victims through fundraising efforts

(From left) Molly Orpin and Jennifer Gourley from Harding Fire Protection Systems join DC FLST Program Coordinator Randy Panesar. Photo credit: Kathryn Fraser

Individually, they are small fund-raising efforts.

A bake sale. Some students collecting coins while holding firefighters’ boots.

But collectively, along with the help of an industry partner, Durham College’s Fire and Life Safety Technician program [FLST] has donated more than $3,100 to the Sunnybrook Hospital Ross Tilley Burn Centre.

Harding Fire Protection Systems, an Ontario fire protection organization, was a key contributor, donating $1,000 as part of Fire Prevention Week in October.

The donation was made Nov. 5.

Fire Prevention Week featured educational and interactive events at DC. A firefighter “challenger” obstacle course by the bus loop, alarm-pulling demonstrations and a trivia wheel full of prizes.

Every year, the FLST program selects a different charity to support during Fire Prevention Week. FLST Program Coordinator Randy Panesar said the students researched Sunnybrook and agreed to support the hospital because of its fire and life safety connection.

“[We wanted to] support [Sunnybrook’s efforts because they] provide medical care to those who have been affected by fire or fire-related incidents,” Panesar said.

Jennifer Gourley, president of Harding Fire, said the organization has partnered with other Ontario colleges but focuses its attention on DC. She said she is amazed at the readiness, preparedness and knowledge of the students.

“Some of our most promising young inspectors who have moved up over the last couple of years have come from Durham,” Gourley said. “They bring what they’ve learned in the program and [are] able to take that information and marry it with what they’re learning from our senior technicians in the field to become really well-rounded technicians.”

Molly Orpin, manager of marketing and strategy at Harding Fire, said the organization has donated to Sunnybrook Hospital in the past.

“The burn unit is obviously very close at heart to our industry because of the type of work we do to prevent fires and burns,” she said. “We wanted to support [the efforts of the students] and it’s a great cause at the end of the day, too.”

Panesar said Harding Fire will become a resource for DC students, with company officials coming in as guest speakers and providing networking opportunities to further careers.

“Having organizations such as Harding come to our college and partner, it really motivates the students,” he said. “When the industry comes in and [students] see the real world and their probable future, it brings healthy competition.”

Mark Pitropov, student VP of the FLST program, said he is grateful for donations from students, faculty and Harding Fire.

“Not only for the money,” he said. “But for knowing that we have made a significant change within the fire industry. Education and prevention are both the core to life safety and having the opportunity to teach students and faculty [during Fire Prevention Week] was invaluable.”