Sooke Fire Rescue is operating with the lowest number of available volunteer firefighters in recent history, says Fire Chief Steven Sorensen in a report to district council.
At the end of September, there were 21 volunteer firefighters with three on leave of absence. Historically, the fire department has been staffed with more than 40 volunteers.
Sooke Fire Rescue also has five career firefighters and 11 volunteers in a support role.
“If the drop in personnel wasn’t enough of a challenge, a dramatic increase in call volume has certainly added to the workload,” Sorensen said.
The first nine months of the year has seen the fire department respond to almost the same amount of emergency calls as was seen in 2014.
“These constant increases are starting to strain the resources of the fire department,” Sorensen said.
Sooke and Metchosin fire departments are working together to attract more volunteers. Plans are to sign up 12 new members with up to six for each department. The testing and screening process began last month with the first training sessions set for January.