It’s the coolest job, says Nick

CANADIAN rappel firefighter Nick Aikins is modest when he talks about jumping out of a helicopter on to a fire ground for a living.

He does not believe he is any more courageous than the firefighters who arrive in a fire truck.

“We just have a cool way of getting to the fire,” he said.

It is only Mr Aikins’ second season as a rappel firefighter and he has chosen to spend it in Australia.

Based at Ovens, the 27-year-old is on exchange with the Department of Environment and Primary Industries for the 2013-14 fire season.

The exchange program has a long tradition and will allow a department rappeller to be sent to help in the Canadian summer.

“It was a great opportunity to come here and get paid to do an awesome job that I love,” Mr Aikins said.

“The intent of the exchange is to learn from each other and exchange techniques.

“The idea is the same — you slide down a rope from a helicopter — but we use quite different equipment.

“For instance, back home we only go out one side of the helicopter, but here they rappel two at a time.”

Mr Aikins likes the idea of rappelling two at a time, saying “it’s more fun”.

“It can also come in handy if you get a rope stuck in a tree, you can communicate and help each other in those situations.”

Mr Aikins said the Ovens crew had been very welcoming.

“I also love Vegemite and have it every morning,” he laughed.

He will stay at Porepunkah until April.

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