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Something big to do

Lt. Brittany Aggark wants to see more faces on her crew
Lt. Brittany Aggark says feeling nervous to try out for the department is normal, but new members will find a welcoming second family with the crew. Stewart Burnett photo

Lt. Brittany Aggark ran away from her first fire.

“It was an apartment fire,” remembers Aggark, who joined the Rankin Inlet Fire Department as a volunteer at age 18, five years ago, following a summer student position with bylaw.

“Everything was just running through my mind. I never went in. I was too inexperienced. To me, it looked frantic, but it was all in order. I was intimidated by everything around me and everyone going back and forth, and I couldn’t handle it.”

She recovered at home for a few weeks but found life without her crew boring. She’s since become an experienced firefighter, recognizable face with the department and advocate for more volunteers.

“After taking so many calls, I learned to control my adrenaline,” said Aggark, who’s glad to take the medical and fire knowledge she’s learned home with her so that she can help friends and family if needed.

She credits joining the department as helping her grow into a more confident and capable person.

Her next goal is to get certified with the National Fire Protection Association and take college courses in it.

In the meantime, she’s hoping more people sign up to join the Rankin Inlet department and work alongside her.

“The more hands, the better,” said Aggark. “We have fun and games in the department. We joke around with each other. After a while, you just bond with everyone and you build another family.”

And you don’t have to worry about being inexperienced.

“I looked like an idiot when I first joined,” said Aggark. “It takes time to grasp the knowledge. Everyone’s going to feel anxious and worried that they’re going to mess up on a call. It’s your first call, it’s a learning experience.”

But the more you do, the more muscle memory you gain. Now when Aggark responds to a call, she has tunnel vision on what needs to be done.

“Come pick up an application,” she said. “There’s not much to do in Rankin. We’re here every Thursday night from 7-9 p.m., it’s practice night, you get to associate with people, get out of the house. It’s not just something to do, but something big to do.”

Lt. Brittany Aggark began as an 18-year-old summer student in bylaw with the Rankin Inlet Fire Department. Stewart Burnett photo