By EMELIE PEACOCK
Salt Spring’s fire department is on a recruitment drive for new members and tonight Hall 2 will be open to anyone interested in joining.
The open hall will be at the Fulford Fire Hall (#2), 2470 Fulford-Ganges Rd., tonight (Oct. 19) at 7 p.m. The fire department is hoping to have six to 10 recruits join, with applications due by Oct. 29. It is also looking for people to join the department’s board of trustees with nomination papers due in this Friday.
Being a firefighter is a constant learning process, said Acting Fire Chief Jamie Holmes, which is what makes the gig such an exciting one. He started as a new recruit on the island 25 years ago.
“Products change that we use to put out the fires, buildings change, so that has to change your technique and how the fire behaves. Technology and vehicles are always changing, so that changes how you do an auto extrication . . . It’s always evolving,” he said. “And we cover so many different aspects: Rope rescue, water rescue, auto extrication, firefighting, medical.”
The skills firefighters learn, from first aid to driving, are also very useful in other aspects of life, Holmes added.
Recruits should be available every Tuesday evening for the first year of their training, which involves safety training, followed by breathing apparatus, hose work, ladders, salvage and more. Within around six months new recruits will be going to calls in support roles.
Holmes is looking for six to 10 people join the 43 paid-on-call firefighters and 10 career members that make up the island’s fire service. The department is unique compared to others, Holmes noted, as it is situated on an island and has no mutual aid.
“For Salt Spring, help is a long ways away if we need it,” Holmes said. “A lot of people say, ‘Why do you need so many members for Salt Spring and why do you need all the trucks and why do we have three hall?’ It’s all to do around that there’s no mutual aid, there’s nobody else coming to help, so we have to kind of deal with the situation ourselves and have the manpower and the resources to handle it locally.”
Holmes referred people to the fire department’s website (https://saltspringfire.com/recruit/) for more information on becoming a recruit.
The Salt Spring Island Fire Protection District is also actively looking for people to put their names forward as trustees on the department’s board. Nominations close at the end of the day on Friday, Oct. 22 and more information can be found at https://saltspringfire.com/notice-of-nomination-for-three-trustees/.
The Gulf Islands Fire Rescue Cadet Camp is also running again next spring break, Holmes confirmed. The fire department has done recruiting in schools and will be interviewing candidates ahead of the spring camp.