Fire squad searches for new members
The Merritt Fire Rescue Department is searching for five new volunteers. The paid position requires a minimum commitment of two hours per week and an enthusiasm for emergency rescue.
Fire Chief Dave Tomkinson said people are volunteering less in their communities and the volunteer firefighting model needs to be maintained to curb the costs associated with hiring more full-time employees.
“We need people, our neighbours and family in our community, to come out and assist their friends and neighbours by volunteering with the fire department,” he said. “If you take a look at the type of people in our community, they are average people with regular jobs.”
Bill Morton is a regional manager for a tire company and has managed to successfully balance volunteering with his career for 20 years.
“You have to have an understanding with your powers that be,” he said, noting he volunteers with the department for between one and 10 hours per week. “A lot of the volunteers have very good relationships with their bosses and they allow them to attend calls.”
Each volunteer is paid hourly for the training and response to emergencies.
“This program has a lot to offer,” Tomkinson said. “There is a camaraderie with being a part of an organization like ours and the excitement of doing an important job in the community.”
The volunteers are enrolled into the College of the Rockies, where they learn the skills needed to perform as firefighters.
Instructors visit Merritt from the Cranbrook, B.C., college.
The training can help people to become full-time firefighters, as the same type of instruction is offered at firefighting academies.
The program is at each volunteer’s own pace. Training is offered on Monday nights, or in the afternoon from Monday to Friday between 1 and 3 p.m.
The minimum training required is two hours per week, but many choose to complete much more.
“It is quite exciting, so we rarely have a problem with the amount of time people are coming in,” Tomkinson said.
Each volunteer needs to be between 18 and 60 years old with some level of fitness, but no experience is necessary.
Nicola Valley residents have until Sept. 15 to submit their applications.
More information is available on on the department’s website at www.merrittfirerescue.com, and on their Facebook page “Merritt Fire Rescue.”
Applications can be picked up at the fire station at 1799 Nicola Ave, or on the website, prior to being printed and dropped off at the fire hall.