Will you answer the call?
Port Hardy Fire Rescue is starting its annual recruitment drive, and Fire Chief Brent Borg wants the local community to know they will be holding an open house Oct. 14 from 3-7 p.m. at the Storey’s Beach Fire Hall, where they will be showing people “what fire fighting is all about — we’re actually going to be putting people into the boots of a fire fighter.”
Borg added the event will also include some kids activities, a barbecue, and “we will be taking people for a ride on the truck, let them grab a hydrant, pull a hose off the truck and spray some water, you know, let them go through the motions and see what it’s like.”
Port Hardy Fire Rescue currently has around 20 volunteer fire fighters, and Borg is looking for at least 30 members to have a full staff.
He said being a volunteer fire fighter is important to the local community. “We’re a group of people who have the tools, the knowledge, and the training to do what we do. When things go bad for people we come in and make it better, and we’re the only ones in this town who can do it.”
Borg pointed out that camaraderie at the fire hall is another positive aspect of the job. “You get to be a part of a group, and there’s always constant learning — most of my friends are fire fighters, it’s a good bunch of people doing good things.”
For those worried about being on the frontline dealing with a fire, Borg said there’s lots of different tasks around the fire hall for volunteers.
“There’s jobs like fire truck driver only, driver operators — people who are familiar with running equipment can actually help free up frontline fire fighters to fight the fires. There’s also administration work that needs to be done and things like maintenance on equipment — there’s all kinds of work not related to actually fighting the fires.”
Borg said volunteer fire fighter numbers are low not just on the North Island, but all over BC, and he is wanting to get the word out that they need more people stepping up.
“When you have 20 people doing work that 30 people could do, it puts more work on everybody else here,” said Borg, adding that because they’re a volunteer department, “you don’t get 30 people answering every call. On a random Tuesday afternoon, you might only get a handful of them because guys could be working, down island, or just out doing stuff, and that’s why we need at least 30 members on the roster.”
When the Creekside Apartments went up in flames this summer, Borg had to put out a mutual aid call for help from the other North Island fire departments.
“We had 13 Port Hardy volunteers on scene, you really can’t fight an interior fire like that with only 13 volunteers,” said Borg, adding that Port Hardy seems to get double the calls than the other areas on the North Island, probably close to 160-170 calls per year, and he will take as many applicants “as we can get — if we get 35 on the roster, I’d be really happy.”
He stated they mostly need staff out at the Storey’s Beach fire hall, and that being a volunteer fire fighter is “definitely a brotherhood, you can go anywhere in the world, show your colours, and you’ll be welcomed into any fire hall. We have a lot of respect for each other and what we do — we all know what it takes to be a fire fighter, and to me, it’s worth every minute.”
– Tyson Whitney article