Newfoundland and Labrador's communities are known for their tight-knit spirit, and the volunteer firefighters who serve them exemplify the value of community. One such community leader is Derek Sullivan, Chief of the Pouch Cove Fire Department.
Recruitment, Retention, and the Value of Community
Newfoundland and Labrador’s communities are known for their tight-knit spirit, and the volunteer firefighters who serve them exemplify the value of community. With over 95 per cent of provincial firefighters volunteering their time, this province surpasses the Canadian average of 71 percent. One such community leader is Derek Sullivan, Chief of the Pouch Cove Fire Department.
The Rewards of Volunteering
Sullivan, a co-founder and 32-year member of the Pouch Cove Volunteer Fire Department, understands the challenges that volunteer firefighters face. His department of 30 volunteers responds to various emergencies, from medical calls to structural fires. They’ve also successfully run a junior program to inspire young recruits. Sullivan underlines the essential role played by volunteers, stating, “Volunteers are the life of a community….We do it for love of our community to help people. Every volunteer firefighter, when the pager goes off, and they’re needed to help someone else, will leave their dinner, birthdays, anniversaries, anything that’s on the go to go and help others.”
The Shortage of Volunteer Firefighters: Causes and Solutions
Despite the dedication of volunteer firefighters like Derek Sullivan and the availability of modern training facilities, there is an ongoing challenge in recruiting and retaining volunteer firefighters. Several factors contribute to this shortage, including retirements, family commitments, and people relocating to areas with reduced firefighting needs. Additionally, there’s a slower uptake of young volunteers to replenish the ranks.
Pouch Cove recently inaugurated the Jack Connors Training Centre, a state-of-the-art facility dedicated to training volunteer firefighters. In honour of National Fire Prevention Week (October 8-14), the Pouch Cove Fire Department has organized an all-day awareness session at Cape St. Francis Elementary on October 11, followed by an open house at their new training facility on October 15. These events aim to educate the community about fire safety and provide opportunities to connect with local firefighters.
How to Become a Volunteer Firefighter
Volunteering as a firefighter goes beyond firefighting; it’s about making a difference in your community. If you’re interested in becoming a volunteer firefighter, you can find guidance and information on the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Services’ Facebook page and website at https://nlfireservices.com/ or https://www.facebook.com/nlfireservices.
Learn more about Fire Prevention Week.
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