The Regional District of Central Kootenay hopes to speed up the recruitment process for volunteer firefighters with a restructured program.
In a media release, the RDCK said the program will help create a regional approach to training to get fire crews ready for active duty faster.
In the past, each fire department has been responsible for recruiting and training its own firefighters. Under the new program, the goal is to hold a recruitment drive twice a year and train the incoming volunteers at an RDCK Fire Training Academy before sending them off to their respective fire departments.
“By controlling the intake process, we believe this is the quickest way to get volunteers trained and ready for active duty,” said regional deputy fire chief Tristan Fehst.
“Normally, it takes about 64 hours of training to get a volunteer up to speed and ready to join a department; this can take anywhere from a couple of months to years to complete, depending on the volunteer’s schedule.”
He added that the new program’s objective is to create an accelerated process by hosting weekend boot camps and additional evening training to help get volunteers ready to join the department more quickly.
The release said there are currently 16 volunteer fire departments operating out of the district’s 17 fire halls, all of which are required to have a minimum of 15 volunteers, although ideally, the number would be more than 20 per department.
Starting Dec. 1, the RDCK will be holding a six-week recruitment drive. Applications from volunteers anywhere in the district will be accepted until Jan. 12 to join the first cohort of the program.
“We are always on the lookout for outstanding, community-oriented residents to join our team. This is a great opportunity to learn valuable skills, provide a service to your community, and work with a great group of people,” said Fehst.
Interested individuals can find more information on the RDCK’s website.