When he was 18 years old, Jason Roe and a friend left Moosomin, Saskatchewan and took a road trip looking for work.

They tested Calgary out for a week or so but the city was too big for their tastes. They had heard good things about Fairmont (Hot Springs) so they got back on the highway and headed further west.

“We didn’t even know Invermere existed,” Mr. Roe said, but he settled in town and made it his home.

“I just fell in love with the Valley,” he said, adding he was impressed with all the activities available from golfing to skiing to enjoying the lake.

Mr. Roe got a job in construction and made friends on the fire department who encouraged him to join. Soon he headed into the fire hall himself.

As a child, Mr. Roe witnessed a fire that devastated a neighbour’s home in Moosomin. He recalls “watching the flames and how the crew showed up and just did the best they could.”

Wanting to do his best too, Mr. Roe began volunteering with Invermere Fire Rescue 23 years ago.

“I became really interested in the training,” he said.

He especially enjoyed the field-training operations where the firefighters turned into legal arsonists and lit old homes on fire.

“We’d watch it go up the walls and across the ceiling,” he said. “It was amazing. Nowadays where you have to learn in a book, we got to learn hands on.”

Taking all the educational opportunities he could, Mr. Roe kept moving up the ranks and officially became the fire chief when former chief Roger Ekman retired last month.

Mr. Roe said he is looking forward to carrying on serving the community and helping the department continue to thrive.

Invermere Fire Rescue is always recruiting. Mr. Roe invites interested residents to call the fire hall at 250-342-3200, to reach out to him at jroe@invermere.net or to stop by the hall at 7:30 p.m. any Tuesday night.