After graduating high school in Powell River, Jacob Hanson, the middle of three brothers, moved away to pursue athletics.
“I graduated and moved right out of the gates to Vancouver to play soccer at a competitive level,” said Hanson.
During this time, he completed his degree in elementary school education. Then, in order to pay off student loans, he went to work fighting forest fires, a job that took him all over the province for the next eight years.
“Towards the end of that career I met my wife; she was working at Sun Peaks Resort,” he said.
Hanson stayed in the resort town and participated in Sun Peaks Fire and Rescue’s work experience program. It offered on-the-job training as well as firefighting certifications.
“I was a big part of their program, and then I went down to Texas and got my basic firefighting certifications,” he added. “Then Brooke and I got married and had identical twin boys.”
The couple found they were too far away from family support living at Sun Peaks. Brooke’s parents live in Alexis Creek, BC, and Jacob’s in Powell River.
They decided to relocate to Powell River, where Jacob found work as a substitute teacher in School District 47. “Predominately at Brooks [Secondary School] but a few days in the elementary schools,” he said. “Eight months in, we were having a blast. My parents were helping us look after the kids, my wife was really enjoying it, and then I got a phone call and was offered a job as a full-time city firefighter in Prince George.”
Jacob had applied for the position a year and a half prior, and choosing to leave town again was not easy, he said.
“It was one of the hardest decisions I’ve had to make because I was back in my hometown, with my family and everything was great,” he added.
Jacob said he figured he might be on the teacher-on-call list for some time before securing a full-time teaching position in the district.
“I would have had a really hard time maintaining my fire certifications because they lapse after a duration of time, so from a professional standpoint it made sense to go up there,” he added.
The couple made the move to Prince George with optimism and the mindset that this could become their permanent home and the work offered plenty of opportunities to build his skill set.
“I loved my time up there,” said Hanson. “They have 120 staff and four different fire halls in Prince George so it was quite a large fire contingent and I got to learn a lot.”
However, when he found out Powell River Fire Rescue was hiring, he didn’t hesitate to apply.
After a lengthy hiring process, Hanson got a job.
Fire chief Terry Peters said Jacob’s forestry background combined with his experience at Prince George Fire Department set him apart.
“We hire from within, and Jacob was certainly part of that process having worked for us previously,” said Peters. “He rose to the top and we brought him home. That’s a feel good thing certainly for us and the community that we brought a local boy back.”
Now that the family is settled in Powell River, they can spend more time with Brooke’s family, said Hanson.
“When we lived in Prince George we’d split our time between Alexis Creek and Powell River but being here it’s so nice because in our time off we can go to her place,” he added. “We’re not splitting our time between our two respective hometowns.”
In a final piece of symmetry, the couple just purchased Hanson’s childhood home.
“We bought my parent’s house, that’s our piece of home,” he said. “It’s pretty neat to be able to have my younger and older brother to our house and family gatherings and kids at the beach. It’s pretty special.”