Fire department personnel a good mix of youth and experience

Keremeos volunteer firefighters discuss what they like about volunteering in the fire department

Tierney Kyle-Murphy is a new recruit, having joined the Keremeos and District Volunteer Fire Department just under a year ago as a 16 year old student member.

He was motivated to join out of a desire to gain some valuable experience, get to know some more people in the village and help out in the community.

“It’s been a bigger experience than what I expected,” he said of his impressions so far, noting he has learned “loads” of new stuff.

Charley Cottrill has been on the department for two years.  The 17 year old is following in family footsteps.

“My brother and my dad both joined the fire department,” he said. Charley had been volunteering at the firefighter’s pancake breakfasts prior to joining as a member.

Cottrill is taking a temporary leave to attend school in Kelowna, but intends to come back in six months’ time. Cottrill said this past winter’s numerous structure fires proved to be an interesting and exciting time on the department for him.

Coby Arnott, 14, is one of Keremeos newest young recruits. He just started – he’s been on the department one and a half months.

Yet another fledgling recruit who has firefighter’s blood in the family, Coby said, “My brother and dad are firefighters – I wanted to see what it was all about.”

Coby thinks the experience has been “all good” so far.

Tèa Hartfield has been training as a student volunteer with Keremeos for nearly a year.

“My dad has been a firefighter for 17 years,” she said, “seeing how much he enjoys it made me want to join.”

Tèa also hoped to be able to help out in the community more when she joined.

“I have frends in high school who also suggested I join,” she said, adding she’s enjoying the experience so far

Bill Sparkes is a 23 year member of the Keremeos and District Volunteer Fire Department.  A member of the local search and rescue chapter prior to that, he signed on after a suggestion from Chief Jordy Bosscha.

“I decided to join the KDVFD in the end, because I didn’t have time to do both,” Sparkes said of his initial decision  to join.

He’s found the more than two decade experience rewarding, noting “a few bumps along the way.”

“It’s definitely a good thing,” he said.

Sparkes has spent many of his years on the department on the executive, including four years as secretary / treasurer, 14 years as deputy chief and 2 1/2 years (to present) as truck captain.

A number of instances come to mind when Sparkes recalls major incidents he’s attended over the years, including a fatal house fire on Third Avenue several years ago, and a small plane crash in the K View Crescent subdivision a decade or so ago.

Tim Cottrill was a member of the Summerland department prior to moving to the Similkameen in 1996, accumulating six years experience there. He lightheartedly sees the volunteer effort as “a great way to play with expensive toys,” noting also the importance of firefighting as a volunteer service.

“Every call has its own importance,” he said, “we get a lot of calls in Keremeos. The cameraderie is really good here, everybody knows all the steps in an emergency. Nobody needs to be prompted into action.”