Stanislav Baranov spent 14 years as a firefighter in Ukraine, doing what he calls a noble career.
Now, over 6,500 kilometres from home, he’s continuing that career in Corner Brook.
Baranov followed his family in a move to Newfoundland in the spring and is working as a firefighter with the city. Plans for him to join the force have been in motion since the winter, when Immigration Minister Gerry Byrne approached the city to see if there was an opportunity for firefighters from Ukraine.
“The guys from here help [me] a lot,” Baranov said through a interpreter, speaking to CBC News on Wednesday. “And [I] really like the city, because [I] came from a small city as well in Ukraine. So [I] really enjoy it.”
Baranov, 34, spent nine years living in the military conflict surrounding the Donetsk region of Ukraine, and was there until he left to reunite with his family in Newfoundland.
“For these nine years, [I] was participating in this actively, obviously as a firefighter. Rescuing people, delivering supplies,” he said.
“[I] was seeing a lot of different things. [We] were rescuing people under destroyed buildings. Some of them were alive, some of them weren’t.”
Now in Newfoundland, Baranov has spent the summer working inside the fire department while also working to get up to speed on his English. He says his crewmates — who refer to him as Stas — have been a big help.
“They really, like, appreciate [me],” he said. “They help [me] out and stuff, like trying to help translating stuff sometimes. Overall, they are friendly.”
Derek Simmons, Corner Brook’s deputy fire chief, said the department was happy to take him on, but had to come up with a plan within their collective agreement to do that.
To address it, Baranov has joined the department on a 42-week program that involves cost-sharing with the provincial government to help validate his training and prepare him to write the provincial firefighter standards exam.
“He’s been exceeding our expectation, particularly on the skills portion of the work,” Simmons said.
Part of that preparation comes with a lot of translating, as the exam can only be written in English.
Baranov has done much of the work on his own — and can often be found going line by line through a 1,400 page textbook in his spare time — but Simmons said the crew has also helped him take it on.
“He’s taken pretty well every piece of equipment out of the truck, the compartments of the truck. The crews will explain the English version of that particular piece of equipment, and of course he has the Russian name for it or Ukraine name for it,” he said.
“He has a little book that he writes down every single piece of equipment, and he has his language version of the name and then of course the English version of the name.”
Simmons said Baranov brings a wealth of experience to the fire hall, and offers an opportunity for both parties to learn from each other and work together in the fire service.
Asked if he has plans to stay on the west coast, Baranov says his family enjoys the region and his daughters are excited to go to school this fall.
“It’s good, I like city,” he said.