Firefighters not in it for the money

Keremeos firefighters aren't rewarded by financial gain

Brian Helm working a drip torch on a wildfire.

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.”

 

 

 

D’Arcy Bridgman is a 10 year veteran who occupies the role of Training Captain with the Keremeos and District Volunteer Fire Department.

 

“(Former) Firefighter Doug MacLeod got me interested,” Bridgman said describing  his original reason for joining. Bridgman was one of the earliest high school recruits, starting 15 years ago. The last three have seen him take on a captain’s role.

“I like to help in the community. I lived in the Kootenays for a few years, and I really missed it,” Bridgman said.

 

“This is a good group of people to be involved with socially, too.”

Bridgman works out of the village much of the time, which limits his availablity for callouts. Still, he finds time to respond during the hours he is in the community.

“Calls are exciting,” he admits, “I don’t want the pager to go off, but when it does, I’m ready to respond.”

Bridgman finds the compensation adequate, echoing other members’ sentiments regarding financial compensation – “If you’re in it for money, it’s the wrong reason.”

“I answer every call I can,” he said, “as far as inconvenience goes, in just about every situation you can name – I’ve been interupted by the pager going off.”

 

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