Nigel Thomas descends to perform a rescue during a Summerland Fire Department training session on Sunday. Firefighters learned techniques of confined space rescue. Throughout the year

Firefighters busy with training and calls

When Summerland's fire alarms ring, most of the firefighters who respond are on-call volunteers, not salaried staff.

When the fire alarms ring, most of the firefighters who respond are on-call volunteers, not salaried staff.

Fire chief Glenn Noble said the department has a chief, an assistant chief and two paid staff members, along with a team of 30 auxiliaries.

While the fire department is a volunteer department, he said the members are paid for training and for the calls they attend.

He said the result is low staffing costs for the municipality.

”You get 30 guys for less than the cost of one full-time firefighter,” he said.

The fire departments in Vancouver, Burnaby and Richmond do not have paid on-call volunteers, but Surrey and other large communities use an auxiliary force for the more significant calls.

“We rely on our volunteers for just about every call,” Noble said.

In 2010, there were 222 calls to the fire department. Firefighters in Summerland do not attend medical calls.

The structure of the fire department will be evaluated in the future, as the community grows, but for the present, Noble said the existing system will remain in place.

Plans are in the works to add three more volunteers within the next 10 years.

In addition to the emergency calls, volunteers and paid staff also attend regular training.

Last year, there were 270 scheduled training events and 605 hours of training.

Firefighters earned 66 certificates.

So far this year, they have had 329 training sessions.

During some scheduled training blocks, firefighters will work on several training sessions.


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