Lambton College grads talk about firefighter program

Opportunities for rewarding careers exist right here at home

Pictured are, from left Ian Van Reenen and Shaun Henderson, both Lambton College graduates and members of the Oakville Fire Department.

A Lambton College graduate who broke world records as a student competing in the Scott Firefighter Combat Challenge continues to light up the international competition circuit.

Oakville Firefighter Ian Van Reenen recently set a new world record in the combat challenge’s Individual relay at the World Firefighter Combat Challenge. Van Reenen, along with his Oakville Fire teammates, also claimed the title of World Champions on the global course.

The week-long event, held in Louisville, Kentucky in late October, welcomed select firefighter combat teams from 14 countries around the world.

Breaking world records and setting personal best times isn’t new to Van Reenen. Since his Lambton College days, the career firefighter and athlete has a long list of titles in his repertoire including:

2012 – Scott Firefit Canadian Championship, Rookie of the Year
2013 – Scott Firefighter World Championship, Rookie of the Year
2014 – Scott Firefighter Combat Challenge World Championships, Men’s Tandem
2014 – Canadian Scott Firefit Champion, Individual
2015 – Canadian Scott Firefit Champion, Individual
2016 – Scott Firefighter Combat Challenge World Champion, Individual (World Record)
2016 – Scott Firefighter Combat Challenge World Champion, Tandem
2016 – Scott Firefighter Combat Challenge World Champion, Team
2017 – Canadian Scott Firefit Champion, Individual
2017 – Scott Firefighter Combat Challenge World Champion, Individual (World Record)
2017 – Scott Firefighter Combat Challenge World Champion, Tandem
2017 – Scott Firefighter Combat Challenge World Champion, Team (World Record)

Van Reenen, now 24, was introduced to the world of Firefit competitions during his first semester at Lambton College. During his time at Lambton, he would go on to lead the team to a series of national and international championships.

A graduate of both the College’s Pre-Service Firefighter Education & Training and Fire Science Technology programs, Van Reenen says he initially chose Lambton College because of the school’s world-class fire training facility.

“My experience at Lambton was very good. The best, I think. The professors, the part-time instructors that come in that are career firefighters and they are able to give you a real example of what the fire service is like.”

Van Reenen also credits the skilled training he received at the College’s renowned fire school, the largest live-fueled training centre in Canada. The centre features a four-story burn tower that uses live-fueled fire props to mimic the most realistic firefighting training in real-world scenarios. Students who train at the centre are exposed to various props and fire scenes that are relevant to their future careers as firefighters.

“Lambton College is incredibly proud of Ian’s success as both a firefighter and a Firefit competitor,” says Spencer Dickson, vice-president, Corporate Performance & Employee Relations, Lambton College. “Ian’s hard work and dedication to his career and his teammates is a testament to the education and training he received at Lambton College.”

It was through the Firefit competition circuit that Van Reenen eventually met fellow competitor, Oakville firefighter and Lambton College Alumni Shaun Henderson. The two would go on to win back-to-back gold medals in the tandem relay at the World Championships at teammates for the Oakville Fire Department’s own Firefit team.

Van Reenen says there is definitely a link between his day job as a firefighter and his success as a Firefit champion.

“Fitness is part of our job. It’s hard, heavy, hot work. It’s not easy. So I think fitness is definitely needed in a firefighter,” he explains.

Even though he spends most of his time working and training, Van Reenen says he can’t imagine doing it any other way.

“Being a firefighter is all about problem-solving. Being a world record holder takes sacrifice and dedication, but I love my job. I love the camaraderie – we’re a team.”

Want to learn more about Ian Van Reenen and the many reasons he chose to pursue firefighting at Lambton College? Go to

Lambton College will be showcasing the Firefighter Combat Team and Fire Sciences programs at its upcoming Winter Open House, taking place on Saturday, January 13 from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. For more information or to pre-register, go to

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