Editorial: Recruits hard to find and keep

The issue of recruiting volunteer firefighters is county-wide

Recruiting firefighters is an issue all across the country. Sooke is no exception and the local paper writing about fire hall expenses is not the reason.

Fire fighting in Canada, writes about the struggles all across Canada in recruiting volunteers to fill vacancies. The number of hours spent training volunteers is incredible. It is a big commitment and many cannot afford to take that much time (and money) away from their families. Many volunteers pay out of their own pocket to get specialized training. Family and relationship issues are a common reason for exiting the service.

Every fire department that relies on volunteer or paid on-call firefighters cites difficulty attracting and retaining members. Sooke is not unique. What makes it difficult in Sooke is the fact that most career-aged men and women may live in Sooke but they work in Victoria or the West Shore. They just aren’t around during the day to respond to any calls. This can also cause stress in the workplace.

Belt-tightening on the municipal level is definitely a factor. Most communities cannot afford career firefighters, even though this would be the preference. In many communities, these highly-trained volunteers are selected for career positions when they do become available. They are sought after and welcomed in any town/city they happen to live in.

Being a firefighter is much more than fighting fires. They are also first responders attending to vehicle accidents, rescues and fires.  They have big responsibilities, big time commitments and they are a crucial. We do value them.