next chance to become a NWFRS volunteer firefighter comes
on March 7, when the twice-yearly three-month volunteer
training academy begins. The need is great, as always.
Were always short of volunteers, said NWFRS Chief Mike Campbell, since they comprise 90 percent of our department. To guarantee always having a responder we need three volunteers trained and ready to go for each position we need on the trucks.
You must be at least 18 and live within the borders of fire districts three, five or 13 that together constitute the NWFRS. Following an interview and a state patrol background check, you must provide a summary of your driving record and get a physical and drug test from a NWFRS-affiliated physician. A physical agility and strength test is the last hurdle before being admitted into the academy classes, and includes five tasks: last falls graduating class included a 61-year-old man.
The training is offered free to qualified applicants, although it costs NWFRS about $2,000 to train and equip each volunteer. The time commitment during training is for two three-hour classes held on Tuesday and Thursday evenings plus all day on alternate Saturdays. Once the classes are completed and the tests passed, the volunteer is expected to give six hours per week, or one three-hour class and one call response. Volunteers are encouraged to take sleeper shifts, staying at their station for a 12 hour period, at least once each month to a maximum of once per week.
Volunteers taking these shifts receive a $50 stipend each time.
Applications are available at the three NWFRS division offices: fire district #13, 4581 Birch Bay-Lynden Road, fire district #3 on 19th in Lynden and fire district #5 on Benson Road in Point Roberts. .