By Fire Chief Rob Girard
This column was written as part of Fire Prevention Week.
“What it takes?”
I am asked by many people interested in becoming a firefighter, “Chief…what does it take to be a firefighter?” It’s a very good question!
Its tough today to recruit and retain volunteers in any organization, just ask the many service clubs in Revelstoke. The same can be said about fire departments. In fact, it is a concern in the fire service across B.C. Having said that, let me tell you what it takes and why it is so rewarding to be a volunteer firefighter.
Revelstoke Fire Rescue Services is rich in history. We celebrate this every day on our trucks by proudly displaying “Serving with Pride Since 1892” or by our retired firefighters who proudly display on their vehicles fire plates that read ”Revelstoke Fire Dept – Retired”. We cannot thank those individuals enough who served this department for generations upon generations, which made our department what it is today. So what does all that mean for someone looking to become a firefighter? Well, it means you get to become part of that rich history, make a difference and join the firefighter family, which is something you can be very proud of.
Another question I get is, ”Chief, I’m busy as it is in my life, how much time is needed?” Good question! We train 1.5 hours every Wednesday – that’s it! As a new recruit, the first four to five months is spent completing the JIBC Basic Firefighter Program. As far as calls go, depending on the month, we do a general page for all members anywhere from 7 to 15 emergency calls. It’s not all training and calls though, we also have a very strong family social aspect to the fire department.
“Chief, what will I be doing as a firefighter?” As a member of Revelstoke Fire Rescue, you will be participating in every aspect of firefighting. That means you may drive a fire truck to the scene, pump that engine, be on an interior fire attack or rescue team, exterior fire attack, be a ventilation team, be 100 feet in the air on the aerial platform truck, assist on a first responder call or help rescue someone from their vehicle using the Jaws of Life. The list goes on and on. Its not simply rolling hose or washing trucks. In Revelstoke, we all do everything.
“Chief, I understand the firefighting aspect, but I see the firefighters out in the community doing various charity events – what is that all about?” Firefighters raise money for three charities: the BC Burn Fund, Muscular Dystrophy and Trees for Tots. Fundraising can vary from boot drives, to tree chipping, golf tournaments and the list goes on and on. We also help the food bank with the Holiday Train when we serve hot dogs and hot chocolate and the Emergency Services food drive. All of our Firefighters do some sort of community service during the year not because they have to, it’s because they want to. It makes each of us feel like we are giving back to the community and it feels great.
“Chief, What about women? Can a woman be a firefighter?” You bet! In fact we have several woman in our department and they are excellent, dedicated firefighters. This is an organization made of men and women and ALL form part of our firefighter family.
“Chief, so I really like what you had to say, what do I do next to get the ball rolling?” Easy question. Come down to the Fire Station at 227 Fourth Street West, get an application form, ask lots of questions, fill it out and get it back to us before Nov. 2. In November, we will be doing interviews and in January the new recruit class will start. Its just that simple!
“So Chief, if you had to summarize why I would want to become a firefighter at Revelstoke Fire Rescue Services, what would it be?” Quite simply, it’s the personal satisfaction of helping people in need at the time of an emergency. It’s the challenge and fun of learning and training something new and exciting.
It’s the joy of getting to know and develop friendships with 41 men and women. Most of all, it’s about becoming a member of the largest family in Revelstoke – our fire fighter family.