WANTED: Volunteer firefighting recruits

Ever wanted to fight fires? Well, the Valley’s volunteer fire departments want you!

Cherry Creek volunteer firefighter Sarah Randall

Ever wanted to fight fires? Well, the Valley’s volunteer fire departments want you!

That’s the message from region’s three volunteer fire halls, who’ve coordinated their efforts this year in an attempt to reach a wider audience.

“We’re trying something different with all three departments trying to do a recruitment drive at once,” Sproat Lake fire Chief Wade Hepp said. At 38  volunteer firefighters, Sproat Lake is the biggest of the Valley’s three volunteer fire halls.

“We’re always looking for extra hands,” added Cherry Creek fire Chief Mike Sparrow.

While with 24 firefighters the Cherry Creek volunteer fire department isn’t short on hands, Sparrow said that the nature of volunteer firefighting makes for a high turnover rate.

“Some people retire, some people move on.”

At 34 firefighters, the Beaver Creek volunteer fire department is “at a pretty good number right now,” fire Chief Charlie Starratt said, but added that he’d like to see that number increase to 40.

The commitment for a volunteer firefighter is designed to fit around a standard work schedule.

There’s two hours of training every Tuesday night from 7-9 p.m., with more sessions on weekends as time permits and of course, responding to calls.

While the time commitment can be significant, there’s a lot to be gained by joining up.

“All of our members are trained as first responders and in general firefighting duties. We do it all.” Starratt said.

Doing it all ranges from learning about fire behaviour and building construction, to how to use ropes and ladders and perform evacuations and hazmat operations.

It’s also free to join.

“All the training and equipment is all taken care of,” Hepp said.

“A volunteer just needs to have the willingness to commit the time and want to give back to the community.”

There’s no prior experience needed.

“We have no prior requirements, just that they’re fit to do the job,” Starratt said.

The experience gained at volunteer fire departments can be especially useful for those looking at a career in the emergency services.

“We have four or five past members working for the city [fire department] right now. It’s a good stepping stone into the career service,” Starratt. said.

Career firefighting isn’t the only area Starratt has seen his past volunteers go into.

“I’ve had half a dozen members move onto the ambulance service.”

While it’s preferable for prospective volunteers to join the fire department in their area, city residents are welcome to join any of the three departments.

“If you live in town then by all means we would definitely look at taking you on.”

Anyone interested in becoming a volunteer firefighter can visit the fire departments’ respective Facebook pages or call the Beaver Creek Fire Department at 250-723- 2313, the Cherry Creek Fire Department at 250-723-2254 or the Sproat Lake Fire Department at 250-735-0588.

reporter@albernivalleynews.com

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