A Revelstoke firefighter in training, fighting a simulated residential fire. (Contributed by Steven DeRousie)

A Revelstoke firefighter in training, fighting a simulated residential fire. (Contributed by Steven DeRousie)

New volunteers put Revelstoke Fire Department in ‘phenomenal’ position

Fire chief Steven DeRousie reviews 2021 and looks forward to the approaching fire season

As fire season quickly approaches, the Revelstoke Fire Department is well-prepared with a crew of fresh, skilled and trained volunteers.

In October of 2021, the fire department had ten staff members and 24 volunteers, only half of what they needed according to Steve DeRousie, Fire Chief with the Revelstoke Fire Department.

READ MORE: ‘Revelstokians who want to help Revelstoke’: Fire Department recruiting volunteers

Then in the spring, the fire department made a big push in the community to get new recruits for the following season.

More than 60 applications were received for new volunteer firefighters, a huge increase over previous years said DeRousie. From that group of applicants, it added 12 new volunteers to the force, two more than it originally made space for.

“Something changed, whether it’s public perception, or we got the word out better somehow,” said DeRousie. “Whatever the reasons were, we had a really high volume of applications which was outstanding.”

Real-world training in the field. (Contributed by Steven DeRousie)

Real-world training in the field. (Contributed by Steven DeRousie)

DeRousie said there is often a good deal of changeover in their volunteer ranks each year for various reasons, but called the position the fire department is currently in, “phenomenal”.

The training provided by the Revelstoke Fire Department is career-level training that is recognized across Canada.

The training process includes classroom work to get the theory involved in firefighting, and hands-on work, including being involved in real-life scenarios to put the practical skills together.

Training at the fire hall. The Revelstoke Fire Department brought on 12 new volunteers in 2022. (Contributed by Steven DeRousie)

Training at the fire hall. The Revelstoke Fire Department brought on 12 new volunteers in 2022. (Contributed by Steven DeRousie)

In 2021, the Revelstoke Fire Department responded to 370 incidents, a number that has decreased steadily since 2017 when they responded to 462 calls.

DeRousie attributed the annual decrease in call volume to continued public education on fire prevention and doing fire safety inspections of commercial and public buildings. The department performed 375 inspections in 2021, up from 365 the year prior.

“The better we are at doing that job, the fewer actual fires get called in,” said DeRousie.

He added that since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, people spend more time in their homes can notice small incidents, such as a paper towel on a hot stove, and deal with them before it becomes an issue.

Of the 370 calls for service 25 were for fires, of which 19 were reportable, including ten residential fires, four chimney fires, four commercial fires, five vehicle fires, and two outdoor fires. The Revelstoke Fire Department reported $818,303 in property value losses due to fire in 2021, and more than $15,000,000 in property value saved through their firefighting efforts.

A firefighter operating the jaws of life, a hydraulic rescue tool that is used to cut through cars and rip open vehicles’ doors to release stricken occupants, in training. (Contributed by Steven DeRousie)

A firefighter operating the jaws of life, a hydraulic rescue tool that is used to cut through cars and rip open vehicles’ doors to release stricken occupants, in training. (Contributed by Steven DeRousie)

READ MORE: A review of fires in Revelstoke this summer


@josh_piercey
josh.piercey@revelstokereview.com

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