Career Profiles

Safety & Survival Instructor and Firefighter

Oil Industry Careers NL

Krista Parsons – Butler

Hometown: Conception Bay South

Company: Offshore Safety & Survival Centre, Marine Institute of Memorial University

“I enjoy my profession every day because it allows me to utilize my respect for the water, my marine training and teaching background and my love for firefighting. As well, I enjoy passing on information to individuals, especially if it may save their life some day.”



Krista has Bachelor of Education and Masters of Education degrees from Memorial University as well as Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Arts degrees. She says her high school courses in physics, chemistry and math were most applicable to her post-secondary studies. Krista has been involved in a number of activities which have helped prepare her for her career. She was a member of the Mount Pearl Marlins and MUN Varsity swim teams, completed Lifeguard and First Aid training, worked as First Aid Instructor and Instructor trainer for the Lifesaving Society (as well as being a member of the Lifesaving Society Executive), and has been involved in the Girl Guides of Canada and Ski Patrol.


Krista says she always dreamed of “working on the water” because of her respect and love for the water and ocean. She also always loved to swim and lifeguarded from a very young age. Her interest in lifeguarding and first aid then led her to teaching and training in these areas. Krista adds that her love of sports and physical challenges (from camping with Girl Guides to skiing the Alps) also helped lead her towards her current career.



Krista generally works Monday to Friday, 8:30 am-4:30 pm. She lives close to her place of work and commutes about 15 minutes each day. Krista also travels for field training in outport Newfoundland & Labrador communities, to conferences and meetings within Canada and to places such as Kazakhstan for international training.


In her position, Krista trains individuals in the marine and offshore industry in safety and survival techniques. She teaches courses in Basic Survival Techniques, Marine Emergency Duties, Marine Firefighting, Cold Water Rescue and Fast Rescue Craft Operations training. This means she trains seafarers how to use their knowledge to make the right decisions to increase their survival at sea. Being a certified NFPA Firefighter has also allowed Krista to train individuals in shipboard firefighting, offshore fire team training, fire extinguisher training, cold water and ice rescue. During the summer months, in partnership with WRDC, she holds an all female firefighting camp for young women at the fire training facilities of the Marine Institute.


Krista’s typical duties include classroom training and practical exercises ranging from firefighting training, personal survival exercises in water, helicopter evacuations in a mock helicopter in water, sea exercises onboard a training vessel at sea, and life raft & lifeboat launching and operations. This job requires a high level of physical fitness, good swimming skills, strength, toughness and being comfortable with: water, heights, dark spaces, cold temperatures, rough sea conditions and elevated temperatures. When training in the survival tank the temperature of the water is cool, while training at sea often involves rough sea conditions, wind, rain, snow, and cold temperatures. Firefighting training conditions are hot and sometimes uncomfortable. Krista’s job requires constant awareness of the environmental conditions in which she is training. Personal safety along with student safety is her number one priority.


Krista’s career began with her lifeguarding and first aid background which led to her work training lifeguards and instructing first aid. She then worked six years with the Canadian Coast Guard Search and Rescue division where she received extensive training in marine emergency duties and survival and rescue techniques. During this time she completed an Education degree and taught at the high school and college levels for three years. She also became a Level II Firefighter and eventually married all of her interests and experiences into her current career.


“Everything you do in your life, especially the things you are involved with at a young age will contribute to your career in the future.” Krista’s future career possibilities are endless. With a Master’s in Education degree she could work towards a managerial position or she might pursue future work in the area of Safety & Survival Research, along with becoming a certified Safety Specialist.


Compensation and Benefits

Salaries in Krista’s field range from $45,000-85,000 annually. Her employer provides her with benefits such as sick leave, annual leave, education leave, industrial employment leave, workers compensation, health benefits and pension. Employees can also take Memorial University courses part-time at no charge if they are relevant to their present job. Krista says her salary is higher than if she was teaching in the school system.