The Fort Frances Fire and Rescue Service will be increasing its volunteer firefighter roster to 30, with 10 of them be put on an auxiliary reserve list.
Town council authorized Fire Chief/CEMC Tyler Moffitt to do so after receiving a recommendation at its regular meeting Monday night.
“The history of retaining volunteer firefighters has been a challenge Canada-wide, as well as within our community,” Chief Moffitt said in a written report to council.
“Currently, we have 17 volunteer firefighters on our roster," he noted. ”Seven of them joined our fire and rescue service in 2017, and three this year.
"In fact, out of the five volunteer firefighters hired this past April, only two remain on the roster.
“We need to get back to 20 volunteer firefighters, which our 2018 budget permits,” Chief Moffitt stated.
He explained that with the new training regulations in the province, anyone becoming a volunteer firefighter on or after Jan. 1, 2019 will have two years to become certified, “which will be a tremendous undertaking and challenge” Chief Moffitt noted.
He mentioned a representative with the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs recently met with all the Rainy River District fire chiefs at a special meeting.
“The wise advice given was to hire as many volunteer firefighters before Jan. 1, 2019—even if it means putting them on an auxiliary reserve list,” Chief Moffitt said.
“This would save time and money on the required certification timeline.”
Chief Moffitt's recommendation, which was backed by the town's Administration and Finance executive committee, was to increase the roster to 30 volunteer firefighters and put 10 of them on an auxiliary reserve list.
“For 2018, they would all attend a two-hour orientation session, which would be documented,” he explained, adding the cost for these 10 members would be $351, which he will be able to absorb in the 2018 budget.
As well, they now would be on the fire department's roster before 2019.
Then next year, to maintain interest and engagement, each volunteer firefighter on the auxiliary reserve list would attend eight two-hour training sessions, which would be budgeted at $2,808 for the 10.
As well, the fire department would evaluate the 10 members to determine who would be appointed to the next active volunteer firefighter position when one became available.
“Going forward, we would have to complete an aggression recruitment campaign and have a handful of open houses with the aim of making all potential candidates realize the expectations, as well as the time commitment, associated with being a volunteer firefighter with the Town of Fort Frances,” Chief Moffitt concluded.