Yarmouth Fire Department Fire Chief John Verrall says they are hoping to recruit 15-30 volunteer firefighters. An open house and recruitment info session is taking place this week. TINA COMEAU PHOTO
By Tina Comeau
If you think you’re interested in the fire service, and even if you think you’re not, you’re invited to an open house and recruitment information session coming up at the Yarmouth Fire Department.
The open house and recruitment information session is being held on Wednesday, Aug. 6 at the fire hall on Pleasant Street at 6:30 p.m. The purpose is two-fold: to educate the public about the fire service and to potentially recruit new volunteer firefighters.
Ideally, the Yarmouth department would like to see its volunteer firefighting ranks increase by 30 members. Even 15 would be great, says fire chief John Verrall.
It is important to have a large compliment of firefighters at fire scenes, Verrall says, not just to be able to fight the fire but because of the safety aspect.
There is, after all, safety in numbers.
While anyone is welcome to sign up as a volunteer firefighter, the department is especially hoping to see females and visible minorities join its team.
“The fire department has to reflect the community it serves. If you look at the numbers we have now we have 30 male volunteers,” the fire chief explains.
“It is also a good resource that we haven’t tapped into. By tapping into that it is going to help us complete our mission because basically it is all about numbers, the more members we have, no matter who they are, the more members we can put on scene to help.”
If people are reluctant to sign up to be a volunteer firefighter because they don’t think they have what it takes, Verrall says they shouldn’t let this be an obstacle.
“Anybody can be a firefighter. You don’t have to be big or small. The tools these days are made for an average person . . . so the average person will be able to do this, no matter who they are,” he says.
And of course there is extensive training that takes place before anyone is sent out to a fire or emergency scene. Which is why the one thing people really do need to be a volunteer firefighter is commitment.
“You’ve got to have a lot of time to do the training. You’ve got to have the commitment to do the training. The functions that are an important part of the morale, you have to come out for them,” Verrall says. “But mainly you have to come out for the calls. We don’t want someone that is just going to call themselves a firefighter, we want an actual firefighter.”
The minimum age to sign up as a volunteer firefighter is 19. Classroom training will begin in September and by mid-November construction of a fire training structure at the fire hall is expected to be completed.
In addition to volunteer firefighters, the department is also looking for people to sign on with the auxiliary or be a member of the Veterans Association.
For his part, Verrall got involved in firefighting when he was in the military. He stuck with it after leaving the military.
He says there is a huge sense of comradery and family within the fire service. And if you have a family, they’re made to feel involved and included too.
“It is a big sense of family,” Verrall says.
And there is always room for more.