Daytime emergency coverage is an ongoing concern for Peninsula fire departments, especially in Sidney, but a crop of new recruits and a mutual aid agreement with its neighbours help ensure people’s safety.
Sidney Volunteer Fire Department Chief Jim Tweedhope says his department’s recent firefighter drive last fall attracted a dozen applicants. He said they will train eight of those starting this month. The basics of being a firefighter will be covered in-house, Tweedhope continued, with advanced skills and live fire training taught in Maple Ridge.
The eight new recruits, should they stick with it and fill in the ranks, will help the Sidney department respond to emergency calls throughout the day. However, not all of the recruits or current firefighters are available during the day. This means more reliance upon Sidney’s four career firefighters and the mutual aid agreement between them, the North Saanich and Central Saanich fire departments.
“(Daytime coverage is) always an issue with volunteer fire departments,” Tweedhope said, noting people work, attend school and sometimes do those things outside of the community.
“It’s a bonus if they’re available during the day,” Tweedhope said of his volunteers, “but we cannot make that connected to recruiting new firefighters.”
In Sidney, Tweedhope said the department responds to an emergency call with five firefighters on a truck.