HUNTSVILLE – With an immense commitment required from its volunteer staff, the Huntsville Fire Department sees a large turnover annually and seeks to hire new recruits to replace those who have chosen to either further their career elsewhere or retire.
The department has put out a call for new recruits and will be accepting applications until Oct. 19.
“It costs a lot of money to train someone, so we’re trying to get the right candidates,” said Gary Monahan, deputy fire chief. “The training requirements that are needed nowadays are tremendous, so when we interview somebody and do the testing we want to make sure they’re going to be the right fit and they’re planning on living here.”
Ideally they hope to receive at least five to 10 years of service from volunteers. But staff understands life changes and some people must call it quits before then.
Hiring recruits costs the department about $7,000 in the first five months for each new firefighter brought on. The amount includes training, gear, insurance, pagers and more.
“I don’t want to put someone through five months of training and $7,000 just so they can take off,” said Monahan. “The cost value of outfitting a new recruit is astronomical. This is why we’re picky when we choose a firefighter; we need to know you’re committed.”
Applicants are required to do a written test, agility test, an interview and then the recruit program.
“We’re looking for a certain breed,” said Monahan. “The person has to have that passion to want to join the department and to help out.”
Candidates need to be personable and be team players.
“If you’re wearing a fire department T-shirt, people will stop you all the time and ask you questions about smoke detectors or this and that, and you have to be able to talk to them and if you don’t have the information, be able to provide them with how to get it,” Monahan said.
He said the role of a firefighter isn’t strictly putting out fires. There is a lot of community involvement that comes along with the position, from public education to being involved in community events whether participating or there to provide first aid if necessary.
“They have to be passionate about being a firefighter,” he reiterated. “You have to want to help people. You have to be able to go with zero sleep sometimes.”
Monahan has been a firefighter for 23 years. “The exciting part for me is seeing how the other firefighters in Huntsville and Lake of Bays have progressed in the department as far as either going full-time to another department elsewhere or becoming full-time on our department,” he said. “We have qualified volunteer firefighters coming up through the ranks through our own department.”
If you’re interested in applying with the department visit http://huntsville.ca/en/living/firedepartment.asp for information on how to apply.