With axes in hand and 65-pound pumps strapped to their backs, Craig Moore and his wildland firefighter crew run towards disaster when others are running away.
Whether venturing deep into isolated forests or into populated communities, Moore, owner/operator of Rider Ventures, and his team work together in an atmosphere of mutual respect to deal with what can be, at times, a harrowing situation.
Thanks to the help received from Community Futures North Okanagan Business Services and Business Loans Coordinator Scot McNair, Rider Ventures has been able to grow their fire and flood services.
“Scot is one of our guys behind the scenes. He is very approachable and easy to work with and has supported us big time. He always sees the future goal, and I can always bounce ideas off him,” Moore says.
Rider Ventures now employs more than 55 seasonal employees, most of whom come from Indigenous communities in the Southern Interior.
The company implements forestry services such as prescribed burns, vegetation and tree clearing and thinning, as well as wildfire and flood safety and suppression, emergency response, training, consulting, and overhead personnel services to government agencies, corporations, and private property owners.
FireSmart Canada certified, Rider Ventures not only works with the Okanagan Nation Alliance, Splatsin Development Corporation, Okanagan Indian Band, and Secwépemc Tribal Councils, but with clients such as BC Hydro, City of Vernon, the Village of Lumby, Landmark Solutions, Tybo Contracting, Emergency Management BC (EMBC), Bo Sash Construction, and Tolko among others.
“Our objective has always been to provide a multi-trained and empowered workforce that works safely, efficiently, and with integrity,” says Moore.
Putting the Wheels in Motion
Originally a structural firefighter, Moore started fighting forest fires all over the province with the BC Ministry of Forest’s Wildfire Service. He also served as a volunteer firefighter with the Coldstream and BX fire departments and is currently with the Lavington department.
After leaving the ministry in 2015, Moore started Rider Ventures. His first job was helping the Village of Lumby mitigate damage from spring flooding.
What started as a one-person show soon expanded when Moore gently persuaded his wife, Jaclyn, to join the business. She left her job with Interior Health and started working as the company’s human resources and administrative leader from the couple’s home base in Coldstream.
In 2018, the Moores approached Community Futures and met with Loans Advisor Scot McNair for guidance.
“We wanted to purchase more equipment and go into other ventures,” Jaclyn explains. “Community Futures, with the help of Business Financial Advisor Barb Schulz at CIBC, was able to help us secure a loan and start a payroll credit. We were also able to purchase PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), including fire retardant uniforms, chainsaws, hand-held radios, and more.”
“Scot is very approachable and easy to work with and has supported us big time. He always sees the future goal, and I can always bounce ideas off him.”Craig Moore, Rider Ventures
Roots of the Matter
As a member of the Sqilxw (Okanagan) Nation, whose great-grandmother migrated from Omak in Washington State to the North Okanagan, Moore believes in using traditional land stewardship methods acquired from his ancestors
To better understand Rider Ventures’ objectives, it helps to look at the company’s logo. Steeped in Indigenous culture, it features the same colours of a traditional medicine wheel surrounding a sacred eagle, with two feathers attached.
“When I thought of the logo, it had to mean a lot and also represent a diversified group, including women, men, and the different cultures, including Indigenous that we represent. The main goal was that everyone here respects one another,” Moore says.
“The colours not only represent the seasons but hold other meanings. Black represents the earth and where energy is held; yellow is the sun and represents the spiritual; white is wisdom; red is the warrior and represents courage. The eagle is the hierarchy, while Two Feathers is what I am called.”
Members of the public who attended the Interior Provincial Exhibition parade this summer likely saw Rider Ventures’ logo emblazed on its emergency response truck, along with its team singing and drumming. The float earned the company first prize.
Training Future Wildland Firefighters
With its credentials in Wildland firefighting, Rider Ventures has recently grown from a five-pack (personnel) fire suppression team to a full-fledged 20-member fire crew with its own Mobile Treatment Unit.
“We also offer enhanced fire protection and have danger tree assessors, danger tree fallers, and power saw operators and also provide structural protection, including putting sprinklers on homes threatened by wildfire,” Moore says.
To meet the demand for fire suppression staff, Rider Ventures has also been offering boot camps to the general public. All participants receive 22 certificates out of the camp, which is held at a remote location over eight days with accommodation and meals provided.
Not only do participants learn the fundamentals of firefighting, but they also participate in team-building and fitness exercises, such as the WFX-FIT test, which is a timed circuit test. This includes carrying a 65-lbs. pump on your back up a ramp in less than 14 minutes and 30 seconds.
“We have had many members complete the test with flying colours,” Moore says, adding, “Many members of Indigenous bands from around the province have taken the boot camp. It’s not only about the fitness and hands-on training, but it’s also about building friendships and relationships and respect for one another.”
“I could not have done this without all the people behind the scenes. My marketing expert, Misty Bergquist, has also helped put us on the map. We all play a major role in the success of this business and its future,” Moore says.
For more information on Rider Ventures, visit them on Facebook or online at riderventures.ca.
Community Futures Business Services is available to those who want to start a new business or take an existing business to the next level. CFNO also offers business loans for most business-related purposes, including start-ups, seasonal requirements, working capital, and expansions. To learn more, contact our Vernon office at 250-545-2215.