Seventeen-year-old Hannah Benischek crawls through a tunnel to simulate a confined space exercise during drills at Saanich Fire Department on July 7.

Saanich teen headed to Camp Ignite

Hannah Benischek, 17, will represent the District’s fire department at Camp Ignite in Vancouver from August 11 to 14.

As young firefighter Hannah Benischek crawls through a fibreglass tunnel, she has trouble seeing ahead. Her helmet is covering her eyes as it is bumped forward by the giant air tank on her back.

Luckily, it’s only an exercise. The tunnel represents a confined space, but otherwise, she is in the relaxed comfort of the basement under Saanich Fire Department No. 1.

She was there on last week because earlier this spring, Benischek, 17, was one of 10 Saanich teenagers who applied to represent the District’s fire department at Camp Ignite in Vancouver from August 11 to 14. She was selected by Saanich Firefighters Bonnie Fiala and Heather Jaques for being a well-rounded applicant as an athlete (freestyle skiing) with a well thought out and put together essay.

“The point of the camp is to have fun and be open minded, and to have a great experience,” Jaques said. “It’s more than a camp for future firefighters, it’s to empower young women to have the career they want, and to give them life skills.”

Benischek is going into Grade 12 at Pacific Christian School and is part of the Canadian Sports School, which supports her athletic endeavour of freestyle skiing (she also spends a lot of time at Mount Washington). At the fire department, Benischek had a gear fitting and ran through a few basic drills with the day crew to get comfortable in the heavy coat, pants and boots. She has now taken the gear with her for the upcoming camp.

Fiala and Jaques had Benischek learn how to hook up the firehose, and use it, which was heavier than she thought it’d be, Benischek said.

“What drew me to apply for Camp Ignite was the balance that firefighting has with a medical [relief] side to it, an athletic side, which I love, and the physical intensity.”

This year is Saanich’s first time sending a teen to Camp Ignite, which draws girls from across B.C. and introduces them to the world of firefighting. Active women firefighters share their experiences at the camp and lead the teenagers through exercises as they gain firefighting skills and participate in fitness and team building activities.

In April, Fiala and Jaques visited high schools in Saanich to encourage girls in Grades 11 and 12 to apply to be part of the new Saanich mentorship program and go to Camp Ignite. It’s a fitting connection as 2014-recruits Fiala and Jaques are among the first female firefighters in Saanich.

Camp Ignite runs at various locations throughout the Metro Vancouver fire departments. For more information about Camp Ignite, visit



Just Posted

Young woman taken to hospital following Trans-Canada accident

Incident left woman with ‘minor injuries’ as West Shore RCMP continue investigation

Saanich preschool celebrates 30 years with reunion event

Thousands invited RSVP for Carrot Seed Preschool 30-year celebration

Belgian man searches for family of fallen First World War soldier from Victoria

Mark Edward Berton attended Victoria High School and has his grave in Flanders Field

Sidney Museum’s Chief Dan George exhibition sees surge of interest

Four mayors, federal Green leader, Tsartlip reps to attend June 21 opening ceremony

Oak Bay artist co-op highlights autobiographical Snapshots showcase

Snapshots runs from June 4 to 22 at Gage Gallery, 2031 Oak Bay Ave.

REPLAY: The best videos from across B.C. this week

In case you missed it, here’s a look at the replay-worth highlights from this week in the province

UN urges Canada to take more vulnerable Mexican migrants from Central America

The request comes as the United States takes a harder line on its Mexican border

Mistrial declared in Jamie Bacon murder plot trial

Bacon was on trial for counselling to commit the murder of Person X

B.C. VIEWS: Money-laundering melodrama made for TV

Public inquiry staged to point fingers before 2021 election

Canadian homebuyers escaping high housing costs by moving to secondary cities

In British Columbia, exurbs have grown in the Hope Valley and Kamloops

Feds lay out proposed new rules for voice, video recorders in locomotives

Transport Canada wants to limit use of recorders to if a crew’s actions led to a crash

Raptors beat Bucks 100-94 to advance to franchise’s first-ever NBA Finals

Leonard has 27 points, 17 boards to lead Toronto past Milwaukee

Third person charged in death of B.C. teen found in torched SUV

Inderdeep Kaur Deo facing charge of accessory after the fact to murder

Kamloops girl, 9, recovering from carbon monoxide poisoning now out of ICU

Her mother who was sleeping in the same tent with her did not survive

Most Read