The Kootenay Boundary Regional Fire Rescue (KBRFR) service is launching a major new recruitment drive urging people who live and work in Fruitvale, Montrose, Genelle, Warfield and Rossland to join its team.
“Our paid-on-call firefighters are integral to our team and help us protect our communities. They are people just like you and if they can be firefighters, then you can be too,” says Paul Marrandino, who is a pipefitter for Teck Metals, four days on/four off. He has been a POC Firefighter for seven years and will head the Montrose Fire Station 375, as Station Officer, come June.
Montrose Station 375 is hoping to attract the largest number of applicants throughout its response area, which stretches from the Walmart intersection to Bluebird Rd. Corner near Fruitvale. “Our message is simple. If you have the enthusiasm, drive, commitment and fitness to work as part of our team, then you are KBRFR and we want you to apply,” adds Paul.
Lieutenant Emily Rindler, mom of two, was the first female firefighter to join Rossland’s Fire Station 371 and stay longer than one year. Over the last six years she has risen within it to become one of the highest-ranking women in the KBRFR and much has changed in the service.
“It’s less about gender and more about a group of really good people doing a bunch of really good things. Yes, there are more men than women but the dynamics are brilliant, the people are amazing and you never stop growing,” says Emily, who juggles her paid-on-call position with that of development services clerk and is currently in training to become a building official for the City of Rossland.
When asked why she initially signed up as a POC firefighter, she explains; “I really like hands-on work, getting to know people and serving the community. At the time, I didn’t know it was a paid position, as that didn’t matter to me but I’ve learnt so many fantastic life skills – you just can’t get that sort of training anywhere else.”
When asked about what barriers there are for prospective recruits, she echoes the thoughts of many: “Women can be persuaded out of the fire service by thinking they’re not strong, fit or big enough but all the lifts and carries are mostly down to good technique. You’ll learn how to get the most out of your equipment, partner and body so that you can do your job effectively, whatever your size or frame.”
Kelton Kinch who recently turned 20, is the youngest of KBRFR’s POC firefighters and balances the role he loves at the Montrose fire station with being a full time business student at Selkirk College and a manager at McDonalds. “I love helping people and being that positive change for someone in my community on what could be the best or worst day of their life,” says Kelton who was drawn to the service after taking the wildlife firefighting course at JL Crowe as part of its Outdoor Education program. “I thought my age would be a problem when I first signed up and I wouldn’t fit in because here I was, the youngest kid, joining such a close knit, established team but from the very first day I opened the door everyone was so welcoming. My age just didn’t matter.”
“Being a POC firefighter is easily the greatest decision I have ever made,” says Jessica Woolsey. She had ‘zero training as a first responder’ the first day she walked into Station 371 Rossland in 2019 but had grown up with POCs– her dad, his brothers and her grandfather, who was a POC chief.
“I’m so proud of what they gave, how they spoke of their station and the camaraderie that came with it. For me? I love the sense of purpose, the family that comes with the job and the constant learning. The small town reality is a tough part of it though – you’re bound to know most of your patients. That’s something you need to process in order to stay mentally strong but the support you get to deal with it, is endless,” she adds.
On-the-job training for POC firefighters takes place once a week from 7pm – 9pm at your local Fire Station. Many POC firefighters have to juggle the demands of life, kids, shiftwork and partners around these practice sessions and the subsequent pager calls. “There’s no set time the bells go off. You will miss some dinners, pivotal hours of sleep, or maybe a bike ride with friends. We go because we are called to, because we are all there for very similar reasons and being able to give back to our community is on the top of that list,” says Jessica.
“If you’re looking to become a career firefighter or want to add some purposeful work in your life, I think it’s a great thing to be a part of,” says Travis Allen who is a 30-year old shift worker at Teck who had no prior firefighting experience before joining the KBRFR as a POC firefighter. “The adrenaline rush you get from hopping in the fire truck and pulling up to a call is pretty cool. With experienced Firefighters looking to retire over the next couple of years and the training for new ones already underway, now is a great time to jump on board and join us to become part of our team!”
Applications and enquiries for each station are via KBRFR’s headquarters in Trail. To find out more about what the role and application process involves, interested candidates can visit rdkb.com/careers, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or telephone 250-364-1737.