The Wellesley Fire Department has launched a recruitment drive to replace a handful of retiring firefighters and build up a pool of eligible applicants.
Fire chief Andrew Lillico said the township is looking for a minimum of three new volunteers and possibly more. The ideal candidate is someone who lives and works in Wellesley, St. Clements or Linwood and can leave work during the day to go to a call.
“Wellesley isn’t so difficult for us to recruit because we have a number of employers to draw from in the village. When it’s a smaller village like Linwood or St. Clements, it’s a little tougher to draw from the daytime guys.”
Linwood in particular poses a challenge for recruitment. The fire department usually carries 20 firefighters per station, but Linwood has had 18 for the past year because they’ve had trouble filling the positions.
“If we can draw and have a few more, that’s always a good thing,” Lillico said.
The fire department likes to have a turnout of 10 firefighters for a fire call, and reaches that minimum target with a two-station response to calls.
Applicants must be at least 18 years old and have or be willing to get a class DZ license within a year of being hired. There are also physical requirements for the job: they must be able to work from heights and while standing on ladders, and lift heavy weights. The job also involves working in confined spaces and using a breathing apparatus. Successful applicants must be able to attend regular training sessions.
Anyone interested in becoming a volunteer firefighter can pick up an application form at the municipal office in Crosshill, 4639 Lobsinger Line, or download a form from the township’s website, www.township.wellesley.on.ca. Applications will be accepted at the township office until the end of February.
Lillico said the township receives many applications from people who have completed the pre-service firefighter program at Conestoga College and are eager to get some experience before moving into full time firefighting. However, the fire department has to balance those recruits with ones who live and work near the fire station.
“That’s the balance and the challenge with volunteer firefighting,” Lillico said.