Nelson Tallio is in his third year as a volunteer with the Keremeos and District Volunteer Fire Department.
“I always wanted to do this work,” he said, “joining the RCMP was my first choice, but when that didn’t pan out, I saw joining the fire department as a way to provide service to the community.”
Tallio saw an ad for openings on the fire department in the newspaper and decided to give it a try. He was one of three who saw that ad and signed up.
“I love the work,” he said, “I’m very satisfied with the way things turned out.”
Nelson, who works for the Lower Similkameen Indian Band, is available to respond to most incidents, as he spends much of the week in the village.
“It’s a great learning experience,” he said,
“We’ve got a great crew. There are so many opportunities for training, and now we’re getting certified, which is even better.”
Tallio believes his presence on the fire department also provides a role model for his kids.
“Both of my kids want to join the department,” he said, adding that he is the first aboriginal member of the KDVFD.
“That’s helped improve communication between the department and the band. His knowledge of band property is also helpful to the department when responding to calls.
“I like to learn,” Tallio said, “and the fire department has provided me with a great opportunity to learn new things.”
Emma Merritt joined the Keremeos and District Volunteer Fire Department in November of 2011. She is now a fully trained, regular member, at 18 years of age.
“It’s my favourite thing,” she said enthusiastically. Merritt recently completed an Emergency Medical Responders’ course, and is providing leadership for the department for their medical emergency callouts.
Merritt has been involved in all types of calls during her years with Keremeos, and understands how to handle her emotions and reactions to unpleasant calls.
“We prepare ourselves before we get on scene,” she said, “I understand we are there for a reason, and do what I can.”
Bill Tallio fulfills a life long passion to help the community during his service on the Keremeos and District Volunteer Fire Department.
The 62 year old is fellow firefighter Nelson Tallio’s father. He signed on one and a half years ago after a suggestion from his son.
“It’s been awesome,” he said of his experience, “I’ve learned a lot of stuff I never had the opportunity to learn before.”
Bill had been a fire department volunteer in previous years, but has found his time with the KDVFD “a whole new experience,” with the department focussed not only on firefighting, but auto extrication and rescuing techniques.
“It’s new and exciting to me – there are so many to learn from here. The team is very good, helpful,” he said.
Bill works at the Lower Similkameen Indian Band office, and lives in Cawston. He finds that he can answer most calls, although he “doesn’t always make the first truck.”
“I like the fact that we are helping the community,” he said, “I think that we are role models for everyone in the community – that’s really important. Maybe we can help to start a new mindset regarding volunteerism.”