Olympic rugby player Brittany “Britt” Benn was looking for the makings of a new team to join and she’s confident she’s found it, thanks to Justice Institute of British Columbia (JIBC).
Britt, a member of Canada’s bronze medal-winning women’s rugby team at the Rio Olympics, decided to pursue a firefighting career and enrolled in JIBC’s Fire Fighting Technologies Certificate (FFTC) program. She completed the online portion from home in Victoria, where she trains with Rugby Canada, and then recently completed seven weeks of hands-on training at JIBC’s Maple Ridge campus, one of the most comprehensive firefighter training facilities in Western Canada.
You learn unity and how to work with each other to achieve one common goal and it's the exact same on the rugby team
It’s a different team and I’ve been only training with women my whole life, so to come into a male-dominated class, I just had to adapt,” said Britt, 28. “That being said, nothing’s different. Women versus men, it’s just teamwork … You learn unity and how to work with each other to achieve one common goal and it’s the exact same on the rugby team.”
The time at the Maple Ridge campus was physically challenging, partly because Britt followed her 10-hour days at JIBC with three additional hours of daily workouts to maintain her fitness levels to the standards of the national women’s rugby team.
As for the hands-on training itself, Britt said, “The past seven weeks has been an incredible experience but it hasn't been easy. They're long days with many challenges you have to push through physically and mentally."
Her class became her new family and she confirmed that firefighting is the right fit for her future plans beyond rugby.
“I've learnt more about the fire service than I ever expected," she said. "I'll be leaving this program with fire in my heart and knowing this is the career I will be pursing after my journey with the National Women's Rugby 7's Olympic Team... but for now, one dream at a time. "
Among the lessons she learned on top of the firefighting skills she’s gained is the importance of first impressions, and the need for prospective recruits to maintain and expand their firefighting skillsets to enhance their resumes in the highly competitive firefighter recruitment process.
“They’re trying to prepare us for the real world,” she said. “This program has given me all the tools that I need to prepare for my application process and my skills assessments.”
Britt is taking her involvement in the national rugby team one year at a time and is grateful that her teammates, coaches and family were fully supportive of her time away at JIBC.
At the celebration ceremony recognizing the completion of their seven-weeks of hands-on training, Britt was honoured to serve as class valedictorian. She was also recognized as the latest recipient of the Jocelyn Roberts Memorial Award, which supports female students in JIBC’s FFTC program. The award was established by the Roberts family with The Justice Institute of British Columbia Foundation.
“It is an honour to receive the Jocelyn Roberts Memorial Award, an award that speaks to the conviction and perseverance put forth by a woman in a truly demanding and selfless profession,” wrote Britt in response to receiving the award. “This recognition only empowers me further to continue to strive for excellence in this field. I am proud to represent a strong female presence in the firefighting population, as Capt. Roberts herself did.”
For more information on JIBC’s Fire Fighting Technologies Certificate program visit jibc.ca/fftc.