Do you have what it takes to be a Thorold firefighter?

Do you have what it takes? The Thorold Fire Department is looking for new volunteer firefighters.

“It’s a six month program done on Thursdays and select Saturdays,” explains Cpt. of Training Mike Pittaway, in an interview with ThoroldToday. “They learn everything that a firefighter might do: auto-extraction, the ins and outs of fire prevention and public education to actual fire firefighting, and equipment operation.”

The volunteer firefighter training program consists of online classes and in-person training.

"Our training is a blended program where they have an online component," says Pittawy. "It’s a mix of theoretical or practical training during hours that we’re together. It could be a 45 minutes lecture and an hour of some type of practical fire skill, usually something that we just covered."

At the end of the program recruits are assigned to one of the fire stations in Thorold. Being a volunteer firefighter requires real commitment.

“[We’re looking for] somebody who has some availability in their downtime,” Pittaway says. “It would be even better if they would be able to leave work, if they’re self-employed or something like that. Somebody who flourishes in a team environment, that’s the best way to put it, and who wants to participate in different types of events from training to calls.”

Pittaway has been the captain of training for the volunteer firefighter program for a few years now. He says he loves the unique bond he builds with new recruits every year.

“You do have this real unique connection with those members because you took them from a civilian to learning how to be an entry-level firefighter,” he says. “It’s pretty neat to watch the progression. The other side of it is you finally get to watch these folks become confident. Not every night of training is easy, there’s nights where there is frustration. We’re there to support them.”

The Thorold Fire Services recruits new volunteers every year to replenish the force.

“One of the things we find is we hire folks and sometimes they move on to another community,” says Pittaway. “They might get a job further out and find that they just can’t keep up with that. There’s a bit of a constant turnover in the volunteer world. A lot of that is [because] it’s a huge commitment.”

But Pittaway stresses that that commitment goes both ways.

“It’s not fair to call them volunteers,” he says. “We pay the members, they’re unionized. There is a bit of a monetary reward to it as well.”

Ultimately, Pittaway hopes that people will feel inspired to become volunteer firefighters.

“There’s certainly no better way to help your community,” Pittaway says. “There’s a lot of people that find they have a passion for this type of work and they choose sometimes to become a career firefighter. Others just find that there’s no better way to spend some of your downtime.”

Applications are due on Thursday, Nov. 3. If selected, potential recruits will be invited to do a written test on Nov. 10.


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