Falls recruiting for more volunteer firefighters
The Standard
 

The city has begun its annual drive to recruit volunteer firefighters.

The Niagara Falls Fire Department wants interested candidates to apply by visiting niagarafalls.ca, and to attend an information session Sept. 5 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at Station 6 on Schisler Road.

Fire Chief Jim Boutilier said recruitment is done every year "because we're always in need of volunteers."

He said the department has 70 to 75 volunteers currently, which is below the 104 needed to be at full complement.

Boutilier said volunteer firefighters cover the rural areas of Niagara Falls at Station 4 on Banting Avenue, Station 5 on Sodom Road and Station 6 on Schisler Road.

He said the fire department hopes to recruit at least 12 volunteers during this drive, which is "manageable" for training purposes.

"If we get more we'll take more, obviously, but (12 is) kind of our target number."

He said the most important aspect for applicants to remember is they need to live in the area they volunteer in.

"You need to live in the response area of Chippawa, Willoughby or Crowland," he said.

"You can't live, I guess, in the north end of Niagara Falls and be a volunteer in the south end of Niagara Falls. That's the most important message we need to get out there."

Boutilier said applicants go through physical fitness testing and an interview process.

"Then we pick the successful applicants from there and they go through a six-month training regime with our training division, and then they're assigned to their stations."

He said having an adequate number of volunteer firefighters will help the department continue to respond to emergency calls in "a timely fashion."

Boutilier said the department is meeting the standards for response time in all three volunteer areas.

"With a volunteer, it's an interesting dynamic in that you have volunteers that are day workers, so they may live in Chippawa and they may commute to somewhere, say Toronto for an example," he said.

"They're gone for half of the day and then they're available to respond to calls in the evening. Then we have our shift workers, who may be working in the afternoon, so they're available in the daytime.

"We're always looking to have our numbers as high as we can so that we have a balance and we can cover off every call 24/7."

Boutilier said he encourages those interested in applying to visit the city's website and to attend the open house next month.

"We answer all their questions, give them a lot more information so they can make a decision on whether or not it's for them."

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