The Eckville Fire Department, part of Lacombe County Fire Services, is currently recruiting more paid-on-call firefighters.
“Many paid-on-call departments like ours are finding it more difficult to attract volunteers,” said Drayton Bussiere, Lacombe County fire chief. “Populations in rural municipalities are small, people work out of town and demands on people’s work time is already high. All of these things make the pool of people looking to become paid-on-call or volunteer firefighters fairly small.”
To become a firefighter with Lacombe County Fire Services, volunteers need to be 18 years of age or older, have a valid class 5 drivers license, the ability to get CPR/first aid training and a willingness to serve the community, Bussiere said.
“We deliver a large amount of in-house training early on, which brings people up to speed on the more specific firefighter capabilities,” he said. “I always tell people they should look at it more as a second job as opposed to a hobby. Being a firefighter can be demanding on your time, but it’s easily one of the most rewarding things a person can do.”
Eckville currently has 18 paid-on-call firefighters and a full roster would be 24 firefighters.
In 2021, the department attended 84 incidents.
“Training is primarily delivered in house and takes place in Eckville, but we do utilize training grounds in Clearwater County and Red Deer,” said Bussiere. “Members train a minimum of three evenings a month, with formal training in addition to that. All members are required to achieve NFPA 1001 level 1 certification and are offered a large amount of training beyond that.”
Without a fire department, the safety of the residents of Lacombe County and the town of Eckville would be at risk, Bussiere said, as well as anyone passing through the region that may find themselves needing help.
“People should consider joining as a way to give back to their communities, gain unmatchable experience and become part of a large team of individuals that quite often become part of your extended family,” he said. “While my statements have been specific to the Eckville Fire Department, they are true for the rest of the fire departments that make up the Lacombe County Fire Service and also many of the fire departments across the province of Alberta. The large majority of fire services in Alberta are volunteer or paid-on-call and members in all these departments are providing invaluable service to the residents in their community.”