Deputy chief Mike Harman and firefighter Steven Bibb show off some of the equipment at the Sidney Volunteer Fire Department. It is currently recruiting volunteers for 2020 (Wolf Depner/News Staff).

Sidney Volunteer Fire Department heats up recruitment drive

Over the years, the department has served as a stepping ground toward paid positions

Wanted: a positive attitude, a desire for camaraderie and a sense of community service.

Those are the personal characteristics for which the Sidney Volunteer Fire Department looks as it continues to recruit volunteers for 2020.

Mike Harman, deputy chief with the Sidney Volunteer Fire Department, said the department has so received half a dozen applications with the application window extended until January.

Harman said the recruitment drive does not have to meet a specific figure. “It honestly depends on how many we get,” he said. “We are always looking between four and six.”

While the department has received between six to eight applications in years past, Harman said the current interest level appears on par with the average.

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Over the years, a number of small departments have raised concerns about recruitment levels, but Harman says it has not necessarily become more difficult to recruit volunteers.

“Once we put the word out there, we start to get the interest,” he said. “We always got people popping in, asking if and when we are going to take applications.”

Would-be volunteers must be 19 years old, live within the Town of Sidney or the catchment, a radius of five kilometres centered on Sidney’s Community Safety Building, and the time and ability to commit to the training,

“We will provide all the training in house and get them certified,” said Harman. “We just need people, who can commit to the minimum training requirement, which is a good three days a week. “

Harman said it takes about 15 months to meet the minimum certification requirement recognized across North America.

Before moving on to the training, would be volunteers go through an interview process and a physical fitness test, said Harman.

Over the years, applicants who became volunteers have moved on to paid positions elsewhere in the region and British Columbia, said Harman, something the department welcomes.

“We are actually seeing this as success, because they have come here, they have been educated, and now they have been able to actually move on to a career positions elsewhere,” he said.

Before that though, they will be joining a department of 35 (with seven of them paid as staff during regular working hours) with a strong sense of family, community and professionalism.

“We treat everybody like a paid professional,” said Harman. “Everybody is on the same playing field. We don’t have a divide in our department between paid and volunteer guys. At the end of the day, it’s one family, one job, one responsibility, which is to provide fire and emergency services to the residents in the Town of Sidney.”


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