From The Hip: Rewarding careers for volunteer firefighters
for Smoky River Express
Future employment opportunities are plentiful in the province for anyone considering an active career in the emergency response sector.
That’s the message from Derian Rosario, regional fire chief for the Municipal District of Smoky River 130, who acknowledges that five former volunteer firefighters in the region have since moved on to emergency response careers since 2002.
Rosario himself began his rewarding career as a volunteer firefighter 25 years ago and hasn’t looked back since.
He says the individual pride and satisfaction of serving as a local firefighter has distinct advantages and rewards for anyone in the region considering active involvement as a volunteer at the grassroots level of their local fire department.
“There is definitely an advantage in terms of career opportunity advancement for anyone considering an active role as a volunteer emergency responder in the region,” he explains.
Part of that advantage is offered by local fire departments through extensive training opportunities and honourariums for service.
The minimum qualification for anyone interested in becoming an emergency responder include: being 18 years of age with a high school diploma CPR certification and being EMR (Emergency Medical Responder) qualified.
EMR and CPR training is offered on rural fire departments and the best part of all is the fact it’s all free!
“You provide the time and we’ll provide the training,” says Rosario, adding that respective fire departments and/or municipalities subsidize the expense of all training.
The imminent need for emergency responders is nothing new to the Smoky River region, which continues to experience a severe shortage of active volunteers.
Rosario says present “active” numbers in the region stand at 18, including three in McLennan, four in Donnelly and 11 for Smoky River Fire & Rescue.
It’s a significant shortfall from the 52 firefighters which he says is needed to effectively provide emergency response services in the region.
“CGI (Insurance Business Services) believes that approximately 30 per cent of a fire department’s responders will respond to an emergency situation at any given time.
For this region it represents an average of about five members responding from three fire departments,” Rosario explains, adding that it’s fairly accurate for the area.
One of the critical keys in maintaining efficient manpower levels on any rural fire department is attracting young recruits to replace retiring members.
“We know volunteers display not only qualifications from a knowledge gained from a training perspective, but also a strong desire to be involved in the fire service.
"These are precisely the type of applicants we’re in search of,” Rosario says.
He refers to the potential opportunity for career advancement within the fire services industry a “win-win situation,” noting that he doesn’t vision it as being a depletion of manpower resources for rural fire departments.
“The overall goal here is to strengthen the recruitment process.”
He says an added incentive for new recruits considering becoming a future in the emergency response sector is the option to specialize in a specific area of choice.
That can be anything from fire suppression to fire investigative services, technical rescue, fire prevention, dangerous goods, fire inspection and emergency medical services.
They’re all basic facets of emergency response services which new recruits are exposed to daily from a rural fire department perspective.
“That’s one of the biggest benefits of being involved as an active member on your local fire department,” says Rosario.
For more information on becoming a member contact your local fire department or Rosario at (780)-837-2455 or by email at email@example.com.