Blair Muldoon’s goal is to become a full-time firefighter. A five-year veteran of the Revelstoke fire department, the journeyman electrician has volunteered his time to the department while seeking out full-time employment.
Earlier this month, he was leading tours during an open house of the fire department as part of a drive to boost the number of volunteers with the department.
“Because the numbers have gone down we’re trying to get more groups in,” he told one group of four prospective volunteers.
Over the past year the number of volunteer firefighters has decreased to 32 from 24. While it has generally been a quiet year for the fire department, the decline puts pressure on the remaining members. As a result, the fire department is looking to recruit 10 new members to help swell the ranks.
Several dozen people showed up to take a look. The tours were given by experienced volunteers while others underwent training. One group of volunteers was in the midst of driver training; the trucks’ engines sometimes drowning out the voices of the tour guides. Another group of volunteers was in the firefighters’ lounge, receiving training by video.
I joined Muldoon while he spoke to four potential recruits: Mimi Pelletier, Daniel Diederichs, Byron Wilkey and Ron Campbell. They all gave different reason for wanting to join, ranging from a desire to give back to the community, to acquiring new skills and using it as a launching pad to becoming a career firefighter.
“Maybe harden up a little bit,” added Wilkey. “Our generation is a little soft in the gut.”
Muldoon told them the role of a volunteer, from assisting on first responder calls to battling raging fires. If they choose, they can also join the Revelstoke Highway Rescue Society and assist on highway accidents.
Volunteers receive training in all areas. As a first responder, you can achieve your level three certification. You also learn all aspects of battling a fire, how to drive the trucks and more.
“You get a good mix of people here,” Muldoon said. “Whatever your background is, you can apply it to skills in the fire hall.”
There are certain expectations to meet as a volunteer. For one, you have to attend 60 per cent of all training sessions. For another, you’re expected to go out on 50 per cent of all calls that come through.
Training is every Wednesday from 7:30-9 p.m., “Even if it means skipping wing night,” fire chief Rob Girard told prospective recruits.
The fire department is looking to recruit eight volunteers right now but will be recruiting new groups once or twice a year to ensure there is always a steady influx of people.
“When you join this organization, you’re automatically getting 41 new friends,” said Girard.
To join, recruits must fill out an application form and undergo a basic medical checkup from their doctor. The application asks questions about ones community work, physical condition, pastimes and other experiences and skills. The deadline to apply is October 31 and interviews and practical evaluations will follow from there.