Sooke is known as the volunteer capital of BC. The volunteers at our Sooke Fire Department are a great example of true volunteerism.
Did you know that our fire department will be 100 years old this year? The Sooke Fire Department was founded by and has been operated and supported by volunteers over those 100 years, making it the successful department it is today. There are currently 25 active volunteers with five recruits in training. In addition, there are fiev volunteer fire safety educators and one volunteer fire inspector. The volunteers are supported by five full-time paid members.
Each year the volunteers put in approximately 6,500 hours of training, attending courses, participating in public service programs and working at community events. In addition, they spend approximately 4,000 hours each year responding to fire calls, motor vehicle accidents and other medical emergencies. Add it up, that is an amazing 10,500 hours a year of volunteer service for our community.
Do they get paid? Not really! In the evening hours three volunteers are paid a nominal amount. From 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. a volunteer duty officer is available to answer calls and receives $3.26 an hour. A two-person volunteer duty crew is also on duty each night from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. to ensure an immediate three person response. They each receive $2.80 an hour. The rest of the calls are done on a purely volunteer basis with no cost to the taxpayer. The district pays an annual stipend to the Firemen’s Association which they use for social and other activities.
This is a huge time commitment for many of the volunteers who have full-time jobs, families and other life commitments. So, the next time you see firemen at the hall in the evening, training, working at an accident scene or you see them at a fire, they are doing it for nothing, as volunteers for you and our community. Think about and appreciate the time they are spending away from their families helping you and me.
The fire department currently has openings for an additional 10 volunteers. It is a great group to work with so if you are interested please phone or drop by and talk to the fire chief.