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The Morinville Fire Department is recruiting, so Morinville Online sat down with Fire Chief Brad Boddez to see what it’s really like to be one of the brave men and women who serve Morinville and the surrounding area.
Boddez said the department consists of 47 members. The department has a full-time Fire Chief, a full-time Fire Prevention Officer and a full-time admin assistant. In May, the department will add a full-time Deputy Chief. Additionally, the department has a couple of Fire Inspectors and 38 paid-on-call firefighters.
The Morinville Fire Department covers all of Morinville, which is about 11 square kilometres, and a 321 square kilometre portion of Sturgeon County.
With a large area to cover, response time is important. “We average about six minutes 10 seconds to six minutes 30 seconds for a shoot time,” Boddez said, adding that time includes leaving home, getting in the car, getting to the station and getting dressed for the call. “We try and minimize that as much as we can, but we’re around the six-minute mark to get off the pad.
Boddez and the department are currently looking for about a half dozen recruits. Because of the short shoot time, being a Morinville resident is a requirement, as are having a clean record, good health, and willingness to commit the time.
“We want to have people that are in good health. The fire department or the fire service is a very physical and mentally demanding job, so good fitness is what we try to strive for,” Boddez said. “Commitment and time is a big one because fires happen 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. So there’s a lot of time involved. We train every Wednesday nights to keep up on our skills. So there’s quite a bit of dedication to the job.”
Boddez said being a team player is essential to success because firefighters have to work so much as a team. “The fire service is very much a brotherhood. It is a second family for a lot of us. When you’ve been around a long time you build those bonds and friendships, so yeah a team player, working well with others – that kind of thing.”
The department is also looking for those with a strong desire to learn because the fire service is a constant learning process.
Boddez said the best part of the job is serving the community. “The fire department is is a very rewarding experience. It’s very stressful. It can be very exciting, lots of adrenaline, but it’s extremely rewarding when you know you can make a difference in people’s lives,” Chief Boddez said. “Sometimes we see the people at their worst, and sometimes we see the people at their best, and so every first impression is important to us.”
A challenging part of the job is being from a small town and knowing many people you have to help in troubling times.
“I tend to know a lot of people, and so sometimes you know going to calls where we know that person,” Boddez said. “That’s a little bit tough. We see things that not everybody sees and so some of those stressful times is what’s tough. We tend to talk a lot with each other. We have critical incidents stress debriefings after bad calls, so mental health is a key component for us. But that’s a tough part of the job – sometimes seeing what we have to see and dealing with what we have to deal with.”
Despite the stress and tough times, Boddez said there is a very strong bond with all of his firefighters.
“We have great camaraderie within the department. The environment itself, when we go on a scene, can be very hazardous. It can be dangerous It’s loud,” Boddez said. “But within the hall itself – the guys tend to get along extremely well together. We have to because we depend on each other and so there’s lots of jokes, and there’s lots of teasing. It’s like a family, and I got 47 brothers and sisters in this department. And so yeah, the environment is very positive for the most part.”
At one time, new recruits were expected to keep their eyes wide open, their ears wide open, and their mouths shut. But that’s changed.
“We want them to ask questions,” Boddez said. “This is quite a specific job. There are lots to learn. They’re like sponges, and a lot of times, they just absorb everything that they need to in order to become the best firefighter that they can. As a recruit you can expect to learn a great deal. You can learn to build lifelong friendships with your brothers and sisters in the organization. You can learn how rewarding the fire department is.
Boddez said many people like himself came to the fire department to give it a try, not expecting it to become a career. But many Morinville firefighters have gone on to careers in fire services in Edmonton, Grande Prairie and Red Deer.
“We’re very fortunate to having such a large complement of firefighters that we have a lot of shift workers,” Boddez said of his current crew. “We have people available during the day. We have people available at night. That was a good cross-section for us.”
The department has a recruitment branch with four training officers who dedicate their time for 12 weeks to put the recruits through the recruitment program to learn the necessary skills they need. Boddez said the whole process takes about six months from start to finish.
Those wishing to apply can visit the Town of Morinville website to apply online.