CHARLIE LAKE, B.C. — The Charlie Lake Fire Department is actively recruiting volunteer firefighters to help the Department battle blazes.
The Fire Department is looking to train volunteers who are at least 19 years old, demonstrate adequate physical fitness, and are able to volunteer 20 to 40 hours of their time per month.
An information session will be hosted at the Fire Hall tonight at 7 p.m., the first session having been held on Jan. 12, 2016. Fire Chief Terry Truchan told Energetic City that session saw about 10 interested people show up — he hopes the number will be higher this time around.
“We had some issues with advertising. The Regional District takes care of our advertising and there was a blip in the system — and that was straightened out,” he said. “We have a lot of advertising for this week’s, so we expect a lot more.”
Last year, 20 to 25 people showed up to the information session.
The deadline for recruitment packages is coming up, on Jan. 22, 2016. After that, prospective volunteers undergo physical tests and interviews in February to show the department what they can do.
“They are all job-related simulations, everything from forcible entry to dragging a 180-pound dummy around pylons, and including a treadmill test for cardio,” Truchan said of the physical demands tests.
After that, shortlisted volunteers will do a station assessment at the end of February, and, finally, have their first training night on Mar. 1, 2016.
The biggest benefit of volunteering as a firefighter, he adds, is the hands-on training it provides. Volunteers get to take the NFPA 1001 course for Firefighting certification for free — which Truchan said can be up to $15,000 out of their pocket in a firefighting school.
He also emphasizes that both men and women are welcome to volunteer for the station, and he encourages it.
“We have three females on the department right now, so it’s not just a men-only club,” he said.
“I’ve worked with a lot of female firefighters throughout my career, and I would hold them up against some of the best male firefighters I’ve seen as well. They can do the job, most definitely.”
In 2015, the Charlie Lake Fire Department answered 92 calls for service, up from 81 calls in the previous year.