Port Edward Fire & Rescue has increased their firefighting crew by more than 52 per cent since a recent recruiting campaign saw the numbers of interested swell over to a waitlist of potentials, the squad’s fire chief said, on Dec. 20
The volunteer force gained five new members filling up all 12 regular positions, and has one recruit waiting to join.
“[The district] can definitely expect a lot more turnout at a call,” Jason Giesbrecht, Port Edward fire chief, said.
The fire department provides all the essential training needed for those who choose to take the plunge into public safety at no cost to the individual. Volunteers are asked only for their time in return.
They respond to not only fires but also motor vehicle incidents. The rescue unit covers Port Edward, Highway 16 from the Galloway Rapids bridge to the Tyee overpass on the way to Terrace, and Hiway 599R through Port Ed. out to the Cassiar Cannery, where the road ends.
More members mean more of a chance for volunteers to respond to a call, Giesbrecht said.
Though volunteers are on-call 24/7, they must balance work with their commitment to the fire department. Sometimes this leaves the potential for members unable to attend an emergency call.
“When you only have seven, you never know how many are coming. Sometimes you’ll get three, sometimes you’ll get less,” he said.
The Port Edward Fire & Rescue holds weekly Tuesday practices and monthly maintenance nights, in addition to barbecues for the community and fundraisers.
Since the open house wrapped up, the new recruits have taken part in two weekly practices and are going over the basics.
The new volunteers have a good sense of what they were getting into, but some didn’t realize there were additional courses, which require an amount of extra bookwork and studying, Giesbrecht said.
There is still much for the recent recruits to learn firsthand by responding to calls and attending incidents.
“We can always use them for something,” the fire chief said.
Norman Galimski, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Rupert Northern View