Ever thought about being a firefighter? Port Hardy Fire Rescue (PHFR) is looking for new recruits.
“October is fire prevention week and typically we do a big recruitment push,” says Information Officer Lieutenant Adam Harding. “We are doing it again this year, but due to COVID things are a bit different.”
He noted while PHFR’s roster is in pretty good shape right now with over 30 individuals, “we’d still like to get some more members and keep people coming in, but hall 2 at Storey’s Beach is where we really need to recruit members who are thinking about joining.”
To promote the recruitment drive, PHFR will be outside of Save On Foods on Oct. 3 to hand out brochures and chat with people who are interested in joining the team.
They will also be out on Byng Road by the old school house store recruiting for hall 2, which Harding stressed again is the area of town they most need filled.
“We basically want to try and get the word out as best as possible as we aren’t able to do an open house,” Harding stated, adding that any interested people will be invited to attend the regular practice night Oct. 8 at 7:00 p.m. for an orientation where they can talk to Fire Chief Brent Borg and find out what fighting fires is all about.
The fire service is widely known as a brotherhood/sisterhood that looks after one another. “It’s like being a part of a big family — joining an international community of firefighters is a fantastic experience, you can walk into any fire hall in North America and talk to the firefighters and they will welcome you with open arms,” confirmed Harding, who also added the community involvement aspect is fantastic. “You get the opportunity to participate in an organization that gives back and gives you the chance to learn some really technical skills — it looks great on a resume as well.”
For Harding being a firefighter is a personal matter, something he takes great pride in. He moved to town seven years ago and didn’t know very many people, so joining the fire service gave him an opportunity to “give back to the community, meet some great people, and really sink some roots into the community I live in.”
Back in January of 2019, a fire broke out on the ground floor of an apartment building in Port Hardy, trapping a resident inside.
Harding and three team members were the first ones through the door that day, while a full crew assisted on the exterior to help with the rescue. Together the four members used their training to rescue the resident and then worked with the rest of the team outside to bring the fire under control, containing it to a single unit before being fully extinguished.
When asked how it felt to save a person’s life, Harding simply stated the reason a lot of firefighters get involved is for the ability to help people on their worst days. “There’s a tremendous sense of satisfaction when you help save someone whose house is on fire, or even just their belongings if the structure has been lost — to be able to put the training together and work effectively to save someone’s life, it definitely feels good knowing you were able to do so. Being part of a team and working with one another to help someone on their worst day is tremendously satisfying.”
Regarding pay, while PHFR is a paid on-call fire department ($12.75 for every call shown up to, as well as practice nights and hall duties), it’s not about the money, says Harding. “While the money is certainly a benefit and is there to help cover the costs of things like putting gas in your tank to get to the fire hall, it’s more of a thank you from the District of Port Hardy and a way to ensure it’s not costing anything out of your own pocket while volunteering for the community.”
Training in the fire service also never ends, it’s a rank structured organization, so there’s always opportunity and room for growth. “The more training a person does, the more experienced they become and the quicker they will move up in the ranks,” added Harding.
As for older persons or people who don’t want to be on the frontline fighting a fire, Harding noted you can still join the department and do other things. “We will take people who are willing to fill other roles, and we have a few members who are a perfect example of that. They’re not necessarily on the front line fighting fires, but they’re still an invaluable resource for us in other ways. Without them, we wouldn’t be anywhere near as efficient a team as we are.”