Water, Fuels and Environmental Technician
• Entry plans
• Part-time option
Water, Fuel and Environmental Technicians provide water supply, waste water treatment and environmental engineering support to operational units at home and abroad.
The Water, Fuel and Environmental Technician job is one of seven Construction Engineering positions that provide all construction, civil, electrical and mechanical engineering services to Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) operations. The primary responsibilities of the Water, Fuel and Environmental Technician are to:
• Install, operate and maintain water treatment and supply systems
• Install, operate and maintain waste water collection and treatment systems
• Set up and monitor various environmental programs
• Produce associated mechanical designs and specifications
• Produce associated mechanical drawings
• Conduct reconnaissance related to the above
• Assist other Construction Engineering tradespersons
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WATER, FUELS AND ENVIRONMENTAL TECHNICIAN
IN THE CANADIAN FORCES
My name is Sergeant Rachel Rickard. I’m from Brantford, Ontario and I’m a Water, Fuels and Environmental Technician currently serving at 17 Wing Winnipeg.
And I’m Corporal Sean Connors from Saint John’s, Newfoundland, a Water, Fuels and Environmental Technician currently posted at CFB Trenton.
RICKARD: Water, Fuels and Environmental Technicians, or WFE Techs for short, are entrusted with one of the most important roles in the Canadian Forces.
CONNORS: It’s our job to ensure that our soldiers, sailors and air crews are provided with clean, safe water on bases in Canada and wherever in the world they are deployed.
RICKARD: We take either well, lake or river water and turn it into potable drinking water. The other part of it is waste water which is where we, of course, take what leaves your toilet and deal with it in such a way that it can go back out to the environment safely. We do environmental sampling and component testing to make sure that we’re within compliance both in and out of country.
CONNORS: We get in there. We’re normally the first ones in and last ones out with the engineers. We got here two weeks ago. It was just an open field and now it’s a fully operational camp.
RICKARD: In the fuels part of our trade, we take care of the tank farms where the fuel is stored. We make sure the fuel is clean and dry. Aviation, gas, diesel and naval fuel – we do it all.
CONNORS: It’s an extremely diverse trade. There are WFE positions on pretty well every base across Canada, so you can find yourself in Cold Lake, Alberta, or on an Air Force base, on a Navy base. You can pretty well find yourself anywhere.
CONNORS: I think when the infanteer or combat engineer, when they’re coming back from a two-week patrol, they’re coming back to camp, I think one of the first things on their mind is that they want to get back there and get a hot shower.
RICKARD: It can never be underestimated. The power and the morale boost that somebody has when they have a shower or anything like that and just being responsible for that and knowing that they’re safe is probably one of my proudest moments.
CONNORS: A lot of what we do is behind the scenes, but if we don’t do it, a lot of things can come to a stand still. If you have a problem, whether you’re deployed either here or anywhere else, it’s not like you can just go to the nearest corner store and pick up the parts, so with the engineering team, we make it work, whether we make the part or adapt and overcome.
RICKARD: One of the coolest parts of our job in terms of technology is our portable Reverse Osmosis Water Purification Unit. With this, we can draw water from just about any source, no matter how polluted it is and take out everything from bacteria to heavy metals. It’s proven itself to be a real lifesaver in some of the worst conditions on earth.
CONNORS: And WFE Techs are part of the Disaster Assistance Response Team based at Trenton. When the DART deploys, that reverse osmosis unit is one of the most important tools we carry with us.
RICKARD: WFE Techs are also involved in hazmat spill cleanup, working with the Army, Navy and Air Force. This could be anything from a simple fuel spill on a runway to the worst case scenario involving an unknown chemical.
What I like most about my job is that it’s never the same thing twice. We’re constantly having to learn new things and adapt to new conditions. No two treatment plants are the same. Every time you change places, you change jobs and it becomes a whole new world again. When was the last time you actually thought about walking over a manhole and what’s actually underneath it?
CONNORS: After basic military training, Water, Fuel and Environmental Technicians spend 6 months at the Canadian Forces School of Military Engineering at Gagetown, New Brunswick.
RICKARD: That course covers all the basics of water treatment, purification and delivery, wastewater systems, environmental monitoring and testing, fuel storage and handling – all the diverse aspects of the WFE trade.
RICKARD: After Gagetown, you’ll receive your first posting to an Air Force, Army or Navy base for two years of on-the-job training.
CONNORS: That involves training in pretty well all aspects of the trade. You do a little bit of time at a water treatment plant, a little bit of time at a wastewater treatment plant. You do some hands-on with hazmat spill clean-up, environmental testing.
RICKARD: It’s very intensive. There is a lot of technical stuff especially with regards to mathematics. We also deal with chemistry and, as you can see behind me, there’s a lot of lab work involved as well. You have to be able to think outside the box because some days you just don’t have an answer and you have to find one.
CONNORS: It’s a great job. The benefits are amazing. Every morning you wake up there’s a different challenge and there’s different parts of the country you can go, you can do a lot of travelling. I’ve been to places I never, ever thought I would go.
RICKARD: My greatest adventure was up in the Northern Arctic Circle. Seeing all the different wildlife. We had yaks and bison and we also had our fishing licences and so we were able to go up there and actually fish for arctic char and I have to say that has got to be one of the neatest things I’ve ever done.
CONNORS: It is an enjoyable experience. It’s a lot of work, but with the military, with a group of people, we always end up having a little bit of fun.
WATER, FUELS AND ENVIRONMENTAL TECHNICIAN
IN THE CANADIAN FORCES
Water, Fuel and Environmental Technicians often work day or night and must deal with the challenges that come with varying environmental conditions. Water, Fuel and Environmental Technicians maintain their skills while employed at home units or on humanitarian and United Nations operational assignments.
Pay and career development
The starting salary for a fully trained Water, Fuel and Environmental Technician is $60,000 per year; however, depending on previous experience and training the starting salary may be higher. Water, Fuel and Environmental Technicians who demonstrate the required ability, dedication and potential are selected for opportunities for career progression, promotion and advanced training.
Related civilian occupations
• Water Plant Technician
• Waste Water Plant Technician
• Environmental Assessor
• Certified Engineering Technician (Mechanical)
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Basic military qualification
The first stage of training is the Basic Military Qualification course, or Basic Training, held at the Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec. This training provides the basic core skills and knowledge common to all trades. A goal of this course is to ensure that all recruits maintain the CAF physical fitness standard; as a result, the training is physically demanding.
Basic occupational qualification training
Water, Fuel and Environmental Technicians attend the Canadian Forces School of Military Engineering in Gagetown, New Brunswick. Training takes approximately 21 weeks and includes:
• Environmental skills such as defensive tactics and firearms
• Care and use of common and special purpose tools and test equipment
• Application of occupational codes and regulations
• Interpretation of drawings and schematics
• Water distribution and treatment systems
• Waste water disposal and treatment systems
• Fuel storage and distribution systems
• Chemistry, fluids and mechanical principles
• Math and Physics
• Brazing and welding techniques
Water, Fuel and Environmental Technicians may be offered the opportunity to develop specialized skills through formal courses and on-the-job training, including:
• Water plant technician
• Waste water plant technician
• Environmental assessor
• Certified engineering technician (mechanical)
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The minimum required education to apply for this position is the completion of the provincial requirements for Grade 10 or Secondaire IV in Quebec, including Grade 10 Academic Math or Math 436 in Quebec. Foreign education may be accepted.
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This occupation is available part-time within the following environments: Army, Air Force
Serve with the Reserve Force
This position is available for part-time employment with the Primary Reserve at certain locations across Canada. Reserve Force members usually serve part time with a military unit in their community, and may serve while going to school or working at a civilian job. They are paid during their training. They are not posted or required to do a military move. However, they can volunteer to move to another base. They may also volunteer for deployment on a military mission within or outside Canada.
Water, Fuels and Environmental Technicians may serve with the Canadian Army and the Royal Canadian Air Force. They are employed to provide water supply, waste water treatment and environmental engineering support to military units for training and operations. When employed on a part-time or casual full-time basis, they usually serve at a CAF location within Canada.
Reserve Force training
Reserve Force members are trained to the same level as their Regular Force counterparts. They usually begin training with their home unit to ensure that they meet the required basic professional military standards. Following basic military training, the home unit will arrange for additional training for specialized skills. Training for Water, Fuels and Environmental Technicians takes about 21 weeks and is conducted at the Canadian Forces School of Military Engineering in Gagetown, New Brunswick.
Reserve Force members usually serve part-time with their home unit for scheduled evenings and weekends (Air Reserve Water, Fuels and Environmental Technicians usually serve up to 12 days per month in a regular work day), although they may also serve in full-time positions at some units for fixed terms, depending on the type of work that they do. They are paid 85 percent of Regular Force rates of pay, receive a reasonable benefits package and may qualify to contribute to a pension plan.