Sudbury short more than 100 volunteer firefighters
Sudbury Star
 

The wheels have started to turn on the recruitment of new volunteer firefighters and city staff said they hope to take the search live quite soon.

During Wednesday’s meeting of the emergency services committee, Ward 6 Coun. Rene Lapierre asked staff when the public could expect a recruitment drive for volunteer firefighters.

“Last year with the pandemic and everything, we put most of our hiring on hold,” Lapierre pointed out. “I’m just wondering when we’re going to reboot the hiring, specifically towards volunteer firefighters. Just wondering if we had a date planned for the next recruitment.”

Joseph Nicholls, the city’s GM of community safety, said work has begun on a 2021 recruitment period.

“We hope to be out recruiting in the not too distant future,” Nicholls said. “Then we’ll make an assessment on whether we’ll do a second recruitment in 2021.”

Brian Morrison, the acting deputy fire chief, said things will work differently this year due to COVID-19. He said the city would “bring people in” to do physical testing and interviews.

“We will not be able to do it as we have in past years, when we’ve brought them all in over one or two days,” Morrison said. “We’re going to have to take considerable precautions.”

Recruitment will take longer this year, but Morrison said the city hopes to begin with a class of 20, which will be whittled down into a functional group.

“We should be looking for folks very shortly,” he said.

Acknowledging the city has “lost a few” and gained a few volunteer firefighters recently, Lapierre said he hopes the city will proceed with the recruitment drive as soon as possible. A full complement of volunteer firefighters in Greater Sudbury hovers at about 350; however, there are currently only 205 people volunteering their time. That puts some stations into dangerous and unstable situations. For example, a source told The Star the Valley should have 60 firefighters, but right now, there are only 32 active members.

“It’s going to be a longer process — from posting to hiring to training — before we actually get bodies out there,” Lapierre said. “I’m happy we’re working on it and if we can put the jets on it, that’d be awesome.”

Ward 3 Coun. Gerry Montpellier said he has heard from several of his constituents they are eager to sign up for consideration.

“We’re full steam ahead working on this recruitment,” Nicholls said, noting those interested should pay attention to social media — @GreaterSudbury on Facebook and Twitter — and the city’s website (greatersudbury.ca) for more information.

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