Fire department seeks new volunteers as numbers shrink

The search begins as Nakusp's volunteer fire department looks for new members.

The Nakusp volunteer fire department has begun its search for new members, as two of its force are set to leave.

Once they depart, the force will be down to 18 people.

“Every few years we go through a cycle where people are moving, or family life, or work changes things,” said Terry Warren, fire chief of the volunteer department.

Warren said he would like to get the number of volunteers up to 25.

“We’re all getting older, and we need some young blood, we need some younger people.”

He said they usually try to get the members to ask their friends, and though they always do, being part of the fire depaartmebt is a big time commitment.

Anyone can apply as long as they’re 19 years or older. No prior experience is needed, but there are some forms to fill out, along with getting a physical, and a criminal record check.

A lot of training is involved. Practices take place every Tuesday night, and extra training is slipped in whenever possible.

Warren said because Nakusp is so isolated, it costs more to send a group away for any kind of special training.

Members of the fire department also have to be trained in auto extraction, along with over embankment rope rescue.

Warren said while training is important for the volunteer crew, safety comes first.

“Number one with us is we want to make sure of the safety of our first responders,” said Warren. “If it’s not safe, we don’t want people going in to fires.”

There are some perks with joining the fire department. They have a $3,000 government tax credit for volunteers that put in 200 plus hours a year, and they carry accidental insurance. If, for example, a member of the department is hurt playing soccer, they’re covered. It’s a 24 hour coverage, and if an accidental death occurs, it’s $100,000 to the beneficiary.

Though becoming a member of the fire department is a big time commitment, Warren said the rewards outweigh any negatives.

“It’s rewarding to help your community and save lives and properties. It’s an awfully rewarding volunteer job.”

Applications can be picked up at the Emergency Services Building and at the village office.