Brian Helm, a five year veteran, is Keremeos and District Volunteer Fire Department’s Truck Lieutenant.
“This is my second stint on the KVFD,” he explained, “I came back here after university, joined the department for a year and a half before moving away and then returning.”
Helm finds satisfaction as a volunteer firefighter in the way it allows him to involve himself in the community. As the operator of a home based business, it provides him with the opportunity to network and socialize with other members of the community, as well as provide a helping hand.
“I enjoy the social aspects of it,” he said, “since I work out of the house, it provides me with my social outlet.”
“My dad was a firefighter here, too,” he said, “I enjoyed the initial experience I had here, so it was a no-brainer to come back.”
Helm said he manages the time he spends in firehall activities “just fine.”
“There is a feeling of additional responsibility when responding to a call during the week when member levels in the community are down,” he explained, noting in some cases the first member arriving in the firehall is often the one taking the command seat.
“It’s rewarding when you can help someone out in the community,” he said.
Helm agrees that most calls don’t come at personally opportune times, but said there is still a need and an obligation to try and answer the page.
“What if it was happening to you, and no one came to help?” he asked, “I think it’s a good thing to know that someone in the community is available and willing to help in a time of need.”
As far as compensation goes, Helm agrees if someone is in it for money, they are in it for the wrong reason.
“I lose money to go running out the door, as do others,” he said, “but at the same time, I must admit the stipend doesn’t go unnoticed at the times of the year when it is paid out.”
Paul McLean has been a member of the Keremeos and District Volunteer Fire Department since 2002.
“I had been retired for a year when I saw an ad in the paper recruiting firefighters,” he said, “I’m used to being active and involved, and I thought this would be something that would keep me involved in the community.”
Because McLean is retired, he finds himself available much of the time.
“I get my fair share of the work.” he said. Living in Keremeos also means he’s close to the firehall, and can get to the station pretty quickly when the pager goes off.
“Guys that get on the first truck are often the ones operating it,” he said, “I really enjoy that aspect of it – being in a responsible position.” McLean said he enjoys the challenge of being forced to deal with things that go wrong, as can happen in an emergency situation.
McLean said money is not a big part of the motivation when it comes to playing the role of a firefighter in the community.
“There’s quite a bit of volunteer work necessary to do this,” he said, “it helps to get some remuneration. I’m satisfied with the amount.” McLean finds more motivation in “working with a good bunch of guys, a good team” – and in giving back to the community.
“I find the service is a team effort with people that get along well,” he summarized, “it’s also mentally and physically challenging. It certainly fills a void in retirement.”