Not many will drop everything at a moments notice to go cover a fire or assist a community member in medical distress, however, Canal Flats Fire Department is hoping to find more people interested in getting involved. The fire department operates as a volunteer-run department relies on their 12 volunteer firefighters and seven volunteer first aid attendants to respond to emergencies within the community.
We average two to six fire calls a year is our max but we get some months we get 10 first aid calls the average is eight to 10 a month, said Fire Chief David Ferguson.
The problem for the department is they’re low on numbers and are reaching out to the community to beef up the department according to Mr. Ferguson.
Fireman are needed more right now but we can always use more first aiders because they’ve got the same problem since the mill shut down. We’ve got guys and girls working in Invermere BC Ambulance, we got guys and girls working in Cranbrook, said Mr. Ferguson. Our biggest problem is manpower in town because everyone had to leave for work when the mill shut down.
New recruits for the department will undergo a six-month basic firefighter training during that six months the junior firefighters are kept out of the danger zone when responding to fire calls. For first aid volunteers a first aid ticket is required, however, the department can help interested recruits obtain a ticket.
Once they get up to where they can do something on a fire scene usually a couple months or months then you give them a radio then they’re on call. Like I said the junior people are always out of the danger zone, said Mr. Ferguson.
New volunteers must go through a standard fitness test, must hold a valid drivers license, and be willing to sacrifice some of their personal time to respond to calls.
It’s a volunteer system they put in a lot of their own personal time in, they drop anything they’re doing including supper to go to a call just be aware guys put in a lot of their own personal time into this, said Mr. Ferguson.
For any community members interested in learning more about the program Mr. Ferguson says the best is to set a meeting to talk with him about the program. Or pop into the fire hall on Wednesday nights at 7:00 p.m. during practice to speak with the volunteers. Volunteers are not limited to living in Canal Flats and out of town volunteers are welcomed by the department.
Surrounding areas can join but they have to understand their response time will be slower from that distance that’s all, said Mr. Ferguson.