If you’ve got the heart, mind and dedication it takes to be a volunteer firefighter, then the Ladysmith and North Oyster Fire Departments are looking for you.
Fall recruitment efforts are heating up in the Cowichan Valley, and local departments are hoping to add a few more to their ranks.
“Motivation and dedication is what we’re looking for,” said North Oyster fire chief Jason de Jong. “We consider your family first, your work second, and the fire department should be a third or fourth party if you want to be successful as a volunteer firefighter.”
Volunteer firefighters are required to undergo a year of probation and months of training on their own time, which covers all aspects of fire suppression, first responding, auto extrication and so much more. Before they can set foot inside a burning structure, they must also complete live fire training, which is done out of town.
It can take up to a year for a volunteer to be fully trained.
“Being a fire department, there’s so many jobs that we have to be trained to do,” said Ladysmith fire chief Ray Delcourt. “A lot of these courses are 40-hour courses.”
However it is not all fire and brimstone for the dedicated members of the volunteer fire department, who also participate in local events such as the Festival of Lights and Santa Claus Parade.
Most of the members of the volunteer fire departments also hold down full-time jobs in addition to the time they donate to the community.
“For the majority of the firefighters, the fire department is a big part of their lives, and they like it that way,” de Jong said.
He added that many people are drawn to volunteer because of the skills acquired during training, such as learning to drive a fire truck and fighting fires safely.
“The average person doesn’t get to do that, so that’s exciting,” he said. “It’s a whole new world of opportunity that they haven’t been a part of.”
Both fire chiefs said that commitment and the ability to go on duty at a moment’s notice are a big part of the job.
“There’s no choice in that; you’re sitting at home watching TV at 10 o’clock at night when the pager goes off — you run … 5:30 p.m., you’re eating Christmas dinner when the pager goes off, you come,” Delcourt said. “That’s just the way it is.”
Practices for Ladysmith and North Oyster are held every Tuesday night, with extra training sessions for new recruits. Weekend courses and training are also par for the course, Delcourt said.
Ladysmith residents can call the fire hall for more information on recruitment at 250-245-6436 or visit their website.
North Oyster and Yellow Point area residents interested in becoming volunteer firefighters can call 250-245-5111 or download the application online.