The Regional District of Central Kootenay has launched a recruitment video to attract more volunteer firefighters.
The video, which can be seen at youtube.com/watch?v=ttffuiWV70c&feature=youtu.be, was released just before Christmas and is part of an effort to recruit volunteers for the Balfour Harrop, Beasley, Blewett, Canyon Lister, Crescent Valley, Kaslo, North Shore, Ootischenia, Pass Creek, Passmore, Riondel, Robson, Slocan, Tarrys, Winlaw, Wynndel Lakeview, Yahk Kingsgate and Ymir fire departments.
“Volunteer fire departments all across B.C. — well, all across Canada — are struggling to recruit and retain firefighters. People tend to move around an awful lot so you struggle … to keep the numbers up,” says Andrew Bellerby, regional fire chief for the Regional District of Central Kootenay (RDCK).
“So part of it is we just wanted to highlight and showcase what actually happens within the fire service. Most people just think it’s fighting fires, but we wanted just to show that it was more than that. Show the camaraderie, the friendship and everything else.”
Parts of the video were filmed during the Firefighter Games in Robson and show firefighters holding up a whiteboard where they’ve written their reasons for volunteering — “action + excitement,” “to support our community,” “for the friendships,” “for my family,” etc. — while their fellow volunteer firefighters throw axes or do chin-ups in the background.
Bellerby says no previous experience is necessary to volunteer, as the departments will provide training.
“You could be any age, male or female. We provide all of the protective equipment and everything. The commitment from volunteers is that we expect people to attend most of the weekly training sessions that last around two hours,” he adds.
Most training sessions are Tuesday nights from 6 to 8 p.m or 7 to 9 p.m., but it depends on the department.
Bellerby says the RDCK can also provide additional training opportunities “if they want or require it.”
The regional fire chief also emphasizes that being a volunteer firefighter is a great chance to meet new people.
“It’s a really friendly environment to be in. It’s not as scary as people think,” he says. “There are some amazing fire halls out there that are very sociable. They have monthly, quarterly, Christmas meals, all that kind of thing. So it’s a very sociable thing to do.”
For more information on how to become a volunteer firefighter in the RDCK, or to apply, visit rdck.ca/EN/main/services/fire-services/volunteer-as-a-firefighter.html.