Drayton Valley Brazeau County Fire Services wants residents to know that they are always accepting applications.

Joey Cherpin, head of recruitment for Fire Services, says that though there are two recruit training camps in the year in the spring and fall, they are always accepting applications.

“If people are interested in between, we will accept those applications on file until the next recruitment period,” says Cherpin. “Then we’ll reach out to the when recruitment opens up.”

He says before people reply they should be aware of some basic requirements that need to be met. 

First, though the firefighters are called volunteers, they are on a paid on-call schedule and they do receive pay for their time.

Those applying must be eligible to work in Canada, have a driver’s license, and be willing to provide a driver’s abstract. Volunteers at the department will be required to respond to callouts, and while they may not be driving the big red trucks, they will have to be able to get themselves to the location on their own.

Cherpin says they also prefer applicants to have a GED equivalent. However, he says if the candidate is the right fit, they can be flexible if they don’t have a GED equivalent.

Volunteers also need to have an address preferably within Drayton Valley or live close to the community. He says if someone lives out of Town but works in Town during the day, they could make it work. Cherpin says they need firefighters to be close by to cover shortages during the day if others are out on a call.

It’s not required for applicants to have any oilfield safety certifications such as First Aid, CPR, H2S, or Confined Space, but Cherpin says they’re strong assets. 

Because Fire Services sometimes work with vulnerable people, they are also required to have a criminal record check and a child welfare check completed. Applicants also must have a form from their doctor saying they are in good health and can perform the tasks required of them.

He says it’s also important that those who apply have up to date vaccinations. Cherpin says they aren’t necessarily concerned with Covid, but rather blood borne diseases such as Hepatitis B, Measles, Mumps and Rhubella. “There is a possible exposure to blood borne pathogens on certain types of calls,” he says.

Cherpin says that personality can play a role in how successful someone is as well. “Basic attributes would be a positive attitude, someone who’s a team player, and not only a willingness to learn but a desire to learn… as well as compassion.”

He says that not all call outs will get the firefighters noticed in the community or be at a convenient time. There are also some nuisance calls that are at inconvenient times, and the firefighters must be able to treat those at nuisance calls with the same care and concern as those at more emergent calls.

“Compassion for those we serve is huge,” he says.

Applicants should also be aware that there is a physical test during the recruitment training weekends. The fire department runs recruits through a program that is similar to the Candidate Physical Ability Test (CPAT) used by many Canadian firefighters. 

Cherpin says applicants will have to participate in a dummy or mannequin drag, a forceable entry simulator, a tire pull, a tool carry, a hose stretch, and a ladder climb. “It’s usually quite challenging even for those who come in that are physically fit,” he says.

He says passing the test is essential.

“It is a requirement because of the type of work that we occasionally do,” says Cherpin. “We need to make sure that individuals can take that.”

Once on board, the recruits will have to attend at least 60 percent of the weekly Wednesday night training like the rest of the fire crews. “We cover a variety of topics from vehicle extrication, to rope rescue, structure firefighting, hazardous materials, water rescues, or wildland firefighting.”

Recruits will be placed into an on-call rotation, where they are expected to be readily available to respond to call-outs. This rotation occurs every sixth weekend from Friday night at 7 p.m. until Monday morning at 7 a.m. And they must have a steady call response of at least once a week on average if possible.

With all of this in mind, Cherpin says it’s also important for the applicants to consider the types of calls they may have to respond to. He says there are some situations that can be difficult, such as deaths, and firefighters will still need to respond.

If someone is uncomfortable with being involved in some of the more taxing work, Cherpin says they will work to put that responder in a position that isn’t near the worst of it. “We’re all just average people, and you learn to process those types of calls with experience and with exposure,” he says.

However, Fire Services always have support for their staff if they are struggling after a call. “Unfortunately, it is a part of the line of work. It’s not a glorious part, but we do work to help our members if they are struggling after seeing something like that.” 

Cherpin says anyone who is interested in applying to be a firefighter can come to the Fire Hall to get an application form to fill out.

By Amanda Jeffery, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Oct 12, 2023 at 09:56

This item reprinted with permission from   Free Press   Drayton Valley, Alberta

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