Firefighters from Malakwa and other departments participated in a live fire training exercise on a disused building in Malakwa in March 2017. (File photo)

Firefighters from Malakwa and other departments participated in a live fire training exercise on a disused building in Malakwa in March 2017. (File photo)

Malakwa fire chief champions rewards of being part of local fire department

Department looking to replenish its ranks

Firefighting isn’t as intimidating a task as it may seem.

This is Malakwa Fire Department Fire Chief James McKilligan’s message to Shuswap residents who might consider joining their local fire department.

As it is, McKilligan is seeking some fresh faces to add to the Malakwa Fire Department’s ranks.

McKilligan said the department’s compliment of volunteer firefighters generally ranges from 14 to 20. Numbers have dipped towards the low end with 17 firefighters, including auxiliary members, due to some firefighters having recently moved away from the area.

McKilligan is eager to welcome mew members aboard and stressed that serving with the fire department only carries a two-hour time commitment most weeks, and offers a variety of rewards in return.

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Firefighters are paid for the weekly training as well as further training opportunities elsewhere in the Columbia Shuswap Regional District and online. They are also paid for responding to emergency calls.

The fire department is looking for interested volunteers 18 years of age or older.

Training includes the use of firefighting protective gear, first aid and other skills.

For those who think operating a high-pressure hose or entering a burning building would be too demanding, serving as an auxiliary member is another possibility. McKilligan said auxiliary members assist with tasks like driving the fire truck, first aid and operating pumps at emergency scenes.

McKilligan said the hard thing about recruiting in the past has been getting people through the door. Once in, he said new firefighters have been happy to be involved thanks to the camaraderie and teamwork.

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