St. Francois Xavier fire chief George Dayton hopes able-bodied local residents will step up to volunteer for the municipal fire department.
"The request for volunteers is an ongoing need," he said, after an ad was placed in a recent municipal e-newsletter.
RM of Macdonald fire chief Ken Langlois said almost all volunteer fire departments are continually looking for new recruits. With a core group of 15 active members and about 10 more who are sometimes able to help, he said they are hard-pressed to respond to the growing number of calls. There were 163 logged in 2012.
"It is tough and puts pressure on the regular guys," said Langlois.
Any individual 18 years and over living within the municipality can apply to become a volunteer firefighter. Dayton said, while no women are current volunteers, some have served in the past.
Applicants must provide a doctor’s letter stating that they are healthy, then they must take provincial training and pass the practical and written tests for level one. Initial training sessions are held in the evening or on Saturdays.
Volunteer firefighters are expected to complete ongoing training. The St. Francois Xavier members recently attended a session on cold water immersion and rescue taught by Gordon Giesbrecht, nicknamed Professor Popsicle for his research into cold water survival.
Dayton himself is one of the department’s original members joining in 1979, and he said there are a few other longtime veterans. But he realizes not everyone is able to make the commitment required and wear a pager 24-7.
"Your family and your job come first," he said.
Anyone interested in applying can contact the RM of Macdonald office at 204-736-2255 and RM of St. Francois Xavier office at 204-864-2092.