The Grand Forks Fire/Rescue recently held a series of sessions for prospective new members, as the department looks to add more firefighters this fall.
The department held an information meeting on Sept. 21 for prospective new department members. Fire Chief Dale Heriot and Assistant Fire Chief Kevin McKinnon went through the training, expectations and logistics of being a firefighter, as well as an overview of the firefighters’ association and duty rotations.
Heriot said the department responds to roughly 400 calls per year, many of them as first-responders.
Currently, the department has 44 firefighters; Heriot said they are looking to add at least six to the department.
The following week the department hosted a “Firefighter for a Night” session in conjunction with its regular practice for its potential new recruits from the week before. In addition to learning a bit more about the department and meeting some of the members, recruits were given the opportunity to try on firefighting gear and begin to learn how to extinguish a car fire at the fire training grounds with the help of a trained department mentor.
Heriot said the department is looking to do two intake periods; one in the fall and one in the spring. While they can take applications any time, he said that training would be started during those periods, making it the best time for recruits to sign up. New members have to pass a probationary period before becomign full members.
The department trains all of its member to the NFPA 1001, which is equivalent to full-time firefighters. The process takes about three years to complete, Heriot said; while it can be done at a more intense pace it is typically done slower because the firefighters are volunteer.
Having the training ground is a real asset in training the new firefighters, he said, and saves the department significant money. Without it, firefighters would have to leave Grand Forks for couple days at a time to be trained elsewhere at significant training and travel costs.
Heriot said the department has mutual aid agreements with the Greenwood, Midway and Christina Lake departments; of those, Grand Forks is the largest department.