Original Published on Aug 24, 2022 at 08:59
By Ian Croft, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
As the fall season begins, the Taber Fire Department is holding another recruitment drive which is a great opportunity for people who are interested in helping out their community. Amy West, assistant fire chief talked about this push for new volunteers.
“The Taber Fire Department recruits twice a year — so every spring and every fall we put out a recruitment drive. So, we open up for approximately a month and try and get the community interested and educate them on what we’re all about,” said West. “Right now, we’re currently recruiting and accepting applications until September 5, after which, we’ll go through our hiring process. (We are) looking for paid on-call firefighters, so that can be anyone who resides in the community of Taber, is a minimum of 18 years of age, they have to be entitled to work in Canada, have a driver’s license, and that’s about all the eligibility requirements. Then we provide whatever training is needed for them.”
West discussed what will be required of the volunteers who get recruited into the fire department.
“If they are successful in the hiring process, they undergo an orientation weekend. So, that’s the full weekend of training Friday evening, Saturday, and Sunday where they are trained on the basic require- ments to safely perform the duties of a new, or what we call a probationary firefighter. That’s like your basic OH and S require training to make sure they know how to safely function on a fire scene. They will undergo that, then if successful for the training, they will get a pager, be required to show up on Tuesday evenings for training, and respond to emergency calls while they go through their more in-depth training that will take several months.”
West also talked about how this volunteer position could potentially lead to becoming a full-fledged firefighter for those who are interested in that career path.
“It takes about approximately three months,” said West. “In their first three months, they will get more in-depth training on the topics that are covered in their orientation. Then if they are successful through that, they will get sworn into the fire department, they will take an oath of office, and then become a full-fledged firefighter. Then they move from the status of a probationary firefighter to that of a rookie firefighter, and then they will stay at that status until they complete their 1001 training, which is the professional qualifications of a firefighter.”
West also touched on why it is important for people to volunteer for this recruitment drive. With Taber still being a smaller sized town, it is still very reliant on having volunteer firefighters, though they are being paid — which is not common for towns the size of Taber.
“It is important because we need people to get involved in the organization. Obviously, towns like Taber, and the many small towns throughout Alberta and across Canada, heavily rely on volunteers. We are fortunate in Taber that we actually have paid on-call volunteers which means that they do get supplemented for their time here,” said West. “They get an hourly wage for the time that they do commit. However, small towns just can’t sustain a fully staffed fire department, so that’s why we rely on the paid on-call volunteers. We need people of all different backgrounds to apply and help us out with that so we can provide the services that the community needs.”
West then discussed the number of individuals that they were hoping to recruit this time around.
“We aim to hire about half a dozen every recruitment. Six would be the ideal number but that depends on obviously how many we take on, depends on how many applicants we get, and what qualifications they can bring to the table. It’s based on who we get applying, but ideally, we are looking for that number of six.”
Finally, West took the opportunity to point people to the fire department’s social media. If someone was interested in potentially volunteering, but would like some more information, West encouraged them to keep their eyes on those accounts.
“Keep an eye out on our social media — we are posting different videos and photos weekly to kind of let people know what everything is about. What volunteering is about if you want more information, feel free to stop by the fire hall or reach out to a firefighter that you might know.”
If you are interested in applying for a volunteer position with the fire department, you can find the application forms at www.taber.ca/ how-do-i/apply/fire-department or by scanning the QR code on this page. If you have any other questions about this opportunity, you can contact West via her email: training. firstname.lastname@example.org
This item reprinted with permission from The Times, Taber, Alberta