Fire call: Georgian Bay fire service seeks volunteer recruits

·2 min read

GEORGIAN BAY — With dwindling numbers for volunteer firefighters the Georgian Bay Fire Service is looking to strengthen its roster.

Unique circumstances across the township present unique challenges for the department of 42 volunteers, said deputy fire chief Chad Dowell.

The demographic of the community is largely comprised of seasonal and senior residents. Volunteering for the department requires a significant time commitment and for recruits to be able-bodied.

“We are always needing volunteers as people come and go as their lives change,” Dowell said. “It’s hard to keep a volunteer firefighter here.”

The department’s three stations average 200 calls per year — including medical assists — to a community spread across 619 individual islands in 164 inland lakes that translates to nearly 3,000 kilometres of shoreline responsibility.

“When you have such a vast municipality, we have lots of area to cover so there’s a lot of drive time,” Dowell explained.

The department’s mandate is for 60 volunteer firefighters but Dowell welcomes as many as are interested. Because half of the Township’s properties are water access only, both land and marine training are provided at no cost and volunteers finish with Firefighter I and II certification.

Volunteer firefighters also receive compensation and work on an on-call basis.

Dowell anticipates a training program will go ahead this fall, adjusted to adhere to COVID safety measures. Due to the pandemic, other departments in Muskoka have put recruiting on hold, he said, but his priority is the safety of the community.

“We respond to everything, whether it’s a fire in a home, a fire in a vehicle, a car accident, or a water rescue,” Dowell said. “We have to respond to calls whether there is COVID or not, so we need to look at that when it comes to recruitment as well.”

Interested in becoming a volunteer firefighter in Georgian Bay? Contact Chad Dowell at The deadline is Aug. 5 at 4 p.m.

​Kristyn Anthony reports for through the Local Journalism Initiative, a program funded by the Canadian government.

Kristyn Anthony, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter,