More to the fire department than emergencies

Fort St. James fire chief looking for new recruits for the department.

Fire Chief Michael Navratil says that while the Fort St. James Volunteer Fire Department currently has 33 members, there’s room for more people who are interested in joining.

“We like to have at least 30 members,” he says, adding that due to a transient population and students leaving the area to pursue further education, the department has a steady turnover of members. He also notes that it’s more difficult than it used to be for some members to leave work to attend to a fire if it happens during the day. “It used to be that employers would let them leave, but now a lot of them are being told that they can’t go.” It means that more members are needed so that there are enough people to respond when a call comes in, no matter what time of day that happens.

There are some physical and fitness requirements, and recruits have to be able to work well with others. A six-week training course, consisting of a three-hour session each Monday night and one day of hands-on exercises, introduces new members to all aspects of firefighting. There’s also a two-hour training session each Thursday night, focusing on different skills such as ladder drills, driver training, road rescues using a variety of tools, hitting hydrants, and tracking where teams are inside a building.

The department also does an annual ice rescue technician course; there are currently 12 members who have received their certification.

The junior program, which accepts students in grades 10, 11, and 12, currently has three members, but could take as many as five. While there are some limitations as to what junior members can do at a fire site, Navratil says that if there’s space in the vehicles then juniors are absolutely able to respond to calls.

However, there’s more to the fire department than responding to emergencies. Navratil notes that the department arranges tours of the fire hall for different age groups, and holds a cold weather awareness program at the high school. The fire department had a booth at the recent Night Market, and Navratil says he’d like to develop more programs to take into schools.

Last year the department held its first Tri-Services breakfast, where members of the police force, ambulance service, and search and rescue team were invited—along with their spouses and children—to come out and meet in a more relaxed setting. “We meet far too often at incidents,” says Navratil, adding that the breakfast is a way for emergency responders to meet and mingle and get to know each other in a more relaxed setting.

The new recruit training course is also a recent initiative. There have been three so far, which resulted in 24 new members for the department, and a fourth is planned for fall 2015. Navratil hopes that the course will recruit another half-dozen or so members. “We’d be really happy with eight.” He also notes that the secondary fire hall currently has eight members, but needs a minimum of ten, otherwise fire underwriters could deem the area unprotected.

A recruitment drive for new firefighters is currently underway; anyone interested in learning more can call the fire hall at (250) 996-8670, or pick up an application form at the District Office. The deadline for applications for the next training course is September 11.

Barbara Roden

 

Just Posted

B.C. chiefs show solidarity with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs

Chiefs from around B.C. outside the Coastal GasLink pipeline route in Smithers show support.

Woman killed in head-on crash near Vanderhoof

RCMP say driver crossed the centre line and hit a loaded fuel tanker truck

RCMP to review actions at Wet’suwet’en pipeline protest camps

Senior Mountie says he hopes protests will be peaceful following deal with hereditary chiefs

‘Tripod’ delays access to Unist’ot’en camp

Social media rumours of cultural significance quashed, meaning police “exclusion zones” should end.

Hereditary chiefs negotiate injunction agreement

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs abide by interim injunction, but gate stays up. Still opposed.

New Canada Food Guide nixes portion sizes, promotes plant-based proteins

Guide no longer lists milk and dairy products as a distinct food group

Suspended B.C. legislature officers accused of ‘flagrant overspending’

Personal trips, purchases, alcohol and more laid out in 76-page report by Plecas

Alberta youth charged over theft of $17,000 in snow equipment at B.C. ski resort

Alberta RCMP recovered $17,000 in skis/snowboards believed stolen from Fernie Alpine Resort Saturday

China demands U.S. drop Huawei extradition request with Canada

Hua said China demands that the U.S. withdraw the arrest warrant against Meng Wanzhou

Giant ice disk equipped with webcam after surviving storm

Westbrook official Tina Radel says the livestream was requested by Brown University

Ousted B.C. legislature officials say report released to further blacken their reputations

James and Lenz say release was ‘Contrary to all principles of fairness and decent treatment’

B.C. animators land Oscar nominations

‘Animal Behaviour’ by Vancouver’s David Fine and Alison Snowden among several Canadians on the short list

B.C. legislature managers accused of excessive travel, personal expense claims

Clerk Craig James, security chief Gary Lenz call allegations ‘completely false’

Auto shop apologizes after B.C. employees disrespect memorial convoy

Mr. Lube staff members suspended after incident Sunday in Nanaimo

Most Read