The EdUp Canada podcast episode, hosted by Michael Sangster, delves into the subject of veterans transitioning into civilian life and how the Ontario Fire Academy plays a crucial role in repurposing their skills for firefighting careers in Canada and abroad. Guests Raakesh Bharathi, president of the Ontario Fire Academy, and Mike Lunn, a career firefighter and instructor at the academy, share their military backgrounds, their journeys into firefighting, and how the academy’s programs, designed with veterans in mind, prepare individuals for firefighting careers. The episode covers the importance of recognizing the potential of veterans, addressing the general public’s misunderstanding of veterans, and the unique attributes veterans bring to firefighting. It also touches on the need for better skill translation for veterans entering the civilian workforce and the advantages of the academy’s training programs that cater to the quick retooling required for veterans eager to join the workforce. Furthermore, the episode explores how the Ontario Fire Academy is addressing the increasing demand for firefighters in Canada while providing continued support and opportunities for veterans. 

00:00 Welcome to the EdUp Canada Podcast: Unpacking Success Through Skills 

00:50 Veterans’ Transition to Civilian Life: Challenges and Opportunities 

01:09 Introducing the Ontario Fire Academy: A New Path for Veterans 

01:35 Personal Journeys: From Military to Firefighting 

03:11 The Value of Veterans in the Workforce 

05:12 Navigating Career Transitions After Military Service 

13:34 The Ontario Fire Academy: A Closer Look 

26:52 The Evolution of Firefighting and Training for the Future 

32:46 Mentorship and Its Impact: Personal Reflections 

35:33 Wrapping Up: The Importance of Service and Training  

About Our Guests

Instructor Mike Lunn has been serving as a firefighter with the Hamilton Fire & Emergency Services. Mike has also served in the Canadian Armed Forces as a firefighter in the RCAF. After his time in the military, Mike transitioned to the Police Force, before taking up a career in the Fire Service. Mike is an active Ontario Fire Academy Instructor. He has also instructed internationally, teaching in the UAE, with the Ontario Fire Academy. 

Raakesh Bharathi is the Owner/President of the Ontario Fire Academy. Raakesh graduated from the Royal Military College of Canada and was commissioned as an Officer in the Canadian Army. In his private sector career, Raakesh has worked in early stage investing, economic development, and trade development. Raakesh also holds a Master’s Degree in Finance from Queen’s University, and a Master’s Degree in Law from the University of Toronto. In addition to leading the Ontario Fire Academy, Raakesh also owns and operates the Canadian College of Health Science & Technology, in Windsor, ON.