Norfolk County’s fire department is in search of people who have a strong interest in the safety of area residents.
Each year the department recruits volunteers to assist in emergency situations.
The department is looking for about 20 people to fill vacancies at fire stations in Fairground, Waterford, Langton, Port Rowan and Vittoria.
“We’ve had 10 applicants so far and the recruitment has only been open for a couple of weeks,” James Robertson, Norfolk’s assistant fire chief, said last week.
“To make sure that we have a lot of time in getting to know our candidates, the application process is open for two months and it closes on September 3.”
Candidates must apply to one of the stations in need of recruits and live in the service area covered by that station.
They must complete a written and physical test.
Once selected recruits will undergo basic training usually one weekend every month for about a year where they learn the fundamentals of firefighting. The training will be handled at the station to which they applied.
Once training is completed, candidates will write a test that will make them internationally certified on proper firefighter competency.
A volunteer firefighter is an on-call position with a pay of $26 an hour.
“We’re called volunteers and technically it is paid on call, but what you’re volunteering for us, it’s your time. You are volunteering to come out and help your community, something we definitely appreciate,” said Robertson.
The department currently operates at 254 firefighters.
Robertson says that social media has played a large role in making the community aware of the volunteer recruitment.
“Social media is something we highly rely on to get the word out there. Facebook is still quite large in Norfolk County so that’s one of the main things we use,” said Robertson, adding they also use other social and local media as well.
Videos highlighting some aspects of firefighting training are also posted on the department’s social media accounts.
The department also uses social media to spread the message about safety and emergency preparedness. One of the most popular involves using Lego safety scenario sets to create fun messages on a serious topic.
This past school year the department conducted a virtual fire safety video for the students of St. Frances Cabrini school in Delhi and sharing the video through their social media pages.
The virtual visit had the department giving students a tour of a fire truck and providing explanations of various tools used in emergency situations, while also addressing at-home safety tips.
“Well, I hope the kids learn a little bit about fire safety and take some of the messaging to check the smoke alarms and to make a plan of escape,” said Cory Armstrong-Smith, fire prevention officer with the department.
Armstrong-Smith says the single video was spontaneous, but is open to possibly developing similar programs in the future.