COMRADES - Firefighter Matt Wilton

COMRADES - Firefighter Matt Wilton

Local fire department launches recruitment drive

Organization looking for those who are ready to be challenged

Lacombe Fire Department is once again looking for new recruits.

Lieut. Eric Nicholas, recruitment officer for the Lacombe Fire Department, said the department is looking for people who are ready to be challenged and excel in stressful situations.

“We are looking for people who are quick thinkers and team players,” said Nicholas.

New firefighters recruited through the drive will be put through a basic training course. This training will focus on things like firefighter safety, the chain of command, basic skills with ropes and knots, some traffic safety and hydrant operations.

Beyond the initial training though, there are multiple opportunities for continuous training, said Nicholas.

He said that the initial training summarizes what is covered in depth in other firefighter training modules.

“We don’t expect people to be coming in with previous firefighting knowledge,” said Nicholas. “When they do come in, it is available to them to take on training modules.

“We always encourage that because that expands their knowledge in the fire service.”

Nicholas added that all the firefighter training is done through a recognized school, Lakeland College. He also said that it is done in-house with qualified instructors wherever possible.

Nicholas did say that they send firefighters to neighbouring departments on occasion when they are offering training sessions as well. This is actually an advantage as it allows firefighters between the different departments, who work together often, to get to know each other outside of emergency and fire scenes.

Not only do volunteer firefighters with Lacombe Fire Department have the opportunity to further their firefighter training while in the department, they get the experience to go along with it too.

Nicholas said it took him about a year and a half to complete his full firefighter training with Lacombe Fire Department whereas it would have taken between three to six months had he done it through an emergency service training school. But this way, Nicholas got hands-on experience at fire scenes, too.

“We’ve had a ton of guys in the past five or six years and even prior to that who have come to Lacombe and received their training here,” said Nicholas.

Once recruited and put through the initial training, firefighters are placed on a six-month probationary period. After they have completed a review and are taken off probation, firefighters can start moving up through the ranks; firefighter third class, firefighter second class, firefighter first class, firefighter engineer, lieutenant, captain, deputy and chief.

Firefighters make up the bulk of the department and are split into crews. Each crew has a captain and a lieutenant as well. Even if firefighters do not have any interest in becoming officers, there are still opportunities for them to fill specialized roles outside of that, said Nicholas.

“There’s lots of different job roles within the department,” said Nicholas. He said that in addition to taking on more responsibility by ranking up, volunteer members can take on roles such as training officers, equipment specialists and recruiters.

There are also a number of committees formed from time to time that members can join. Lacombe Fire Department is constantly looking for new recruits as they lose a few every so often due to changing work situations, moving to other communities, or volunteer firefighters deciding to become career firefighters elsewhere.

Nicholas added that firefighting, even as a volunteer, can be stressful to families and it is important for volunteers to know that beforehand.

“Your family has to back you 100 per cent,” said Nicholas. “If they don’t, there can be some conflict.”

He said the department doesn’t have a set minimum or maximum number of firefighters it is working towards, but he would like to see between six and 12 successful applicants for a good sized training class.

Neither is there a concrete timeline for the recruitment drive, but Nicholas said he would like to be doing the training early enough in the fall so as to avoid the winter’s elements.

Applications for the Lacombe Fire Department recruitment drive can be picked up at the Lacombe Fire Department, City Hall, or downloaded online from the City’s web site, www.lacombe.ca.

Applicants must be at least 18 years of age.

In related news, the Lacombe Fire Department will once again have its Firefighters 1st calendars for sale soon. Nicholas said these sales are important as they raise funds for the fire department that are used for training and equipment.

news@lacombeexpress.com