With two members leaving the team this year, Juliet Van Vliet and Robert Costley, the Ucluelet Volunteer Fire Brigade (UVFB) is on the lookout for a few new recruits.
From free divers and schoolteachers to electricians, plumbers, and tow truck drivers, deputy chief Mark Fortune says they’ll take everybody.
“Everybody in this room has a different skill set that they are very good at and have found a niche within the fire service,” said Fortune, who has been supporting the community as a firefighter for 19 years.
“It’d be good to get some more females involved,” chief Eeftink adds. “We’re always happy to have more ladies join for sure.”
The roster is currently down to 20 members, and Eeftink would like to see that number grow to between 25 and 30.
“In a stressful situation when the chips are down, [the Brigade] really pulls together. It’s a great team to work with,” notes Fortune.
The District of Ucluelet pays for all the first aid training for joiners of the UVFB. In addition to the medical component, members learn how to use the rescue tools that cut cars open and how to wrangle large diameter water hoses.
“You get a lot of training basically free of charge,” said Fortune. “The training is also recognized B.C. wide. It’s totally transferable to a full-time position to say in Vancouver Fire or Victoria Fire. We’re being trained at the same level as major fire services.”
Eeftink thinks the UVFB is in a better place than they ever used to be with all the training.
“It seems like we are on top of things just being with first responders now and just being more integrated with that part of it. You know, we don’t do a lot of fires now. I think the guys are liking what they are seeing,” he said.
With the exception of a couple fatal incidents the UVFB responded to alongside the RCMP over the summer, Fortune said it’s been a relatively quiet year.
“We’re lucky out here because we are in the fog zone. We had some beach fires, but we never really had forest interface issues that everyone else in the province has had,” said Fortune.
The rescue truck received $20,000 worth of safety and light upgrades, plus a new thermo imaging camera was added to the teams’ emergency kit.
After serving nine years as the fire chief, Eeftink said he’s looking forward to spending more time with his grandkids and travelling.
“By the end of this year, Dec. 30, I’m finished as the chief. I’m going to stand on until they find somebody, which might go until March,” Eeftink told the Westerly.
Fortune egged the chief on.
“We’re going to keep him around. He’s not going to get off that easy.”
Anyone interested in becoming a member of the UVFB is encouraged to stop by the District of Ucluelet office for an application. Submissions are due by 4p.m. on Monday, Oct. 15.