Volunteer firefighters have been trained in Squamish for more than 100 years.
Each fall, the department puts out a call for new recruits. The application period is open until Friday, Oct. 19.
Seth Tidsbury, 36, is one of the newest crop of 12 volunteer firefighters. His cohort completed the initial training in June.
The Chief recently caught up with the busy local for a chat about what motivated him to apply to the department and why he thinks anyone interested should do the same.
What follows is an edited version of that conversation.
Q: Did you always want to be a firefighter? When you were a kid, did you dress up as one for Halloween?
A: Definitely. Even after high school, I wanted to be a firefighter. But, life happens. You get busy, get married, have kids — though the idea had never left my mind. So, when this opportunity came up, I took it. It is really more than I ever expected.
From the moment you become a volunteer firefighter, you are genuinely welcomed and treated like they treat any other career firefighter.
I am getting all the training a professional firefighter would get and working alongside them. It is pretty amazing. It has exceeded all my expectations.
Q: What is your history in Squamish?
A: I have lived here for almost three years. We were in Vancouver before that, and we moved up here for more space and the Squamish lifestyle. It is smaller, has a sense of community, and it was easier to get our kids into French Immersion.
Q: What drew you to try out to be a volunteer firefighter in Squamish?
A: So many reasons! The obvious thing was it was something I always wanted to do — to help people. Also, coming up to Squamish and being new to town, I wanted to be more involved. One other reason is just to be prepared for whatever might happen. I find with my kids getting older and our parents getting older — out at the ice rink all the time with my kids, or on the soccer field — I wanted to be prepared for any situation. It was a bit of a fear of mine to be somewhere and not be prepared for an emergency.
Q: Did you do a lot of training to prepare for the physical test required of applicants?
A: No, not really. I am physically fit, and I do participate in activities with my kids, but I didn't train specifically for this. It isn't like what you might see on TV with these boot-camp-like tests where you have to climb a mountain carrying thousands of pounds. It is a very encouraging atmosphere during the test. While you are taking it, the career and volunteer firefighters all cheer you on. It is more fun than you would expect a physical exam to be.
Q: Once you were accepted, how was the training?
A: It is intense, but it isn't for a long, extended period — it is for six months. You do a lot of school work, and then twice a week you are out doing practical training. You learn a ton. A year ago, I wouldn't have thought I would now be capable of what I am.
Juggling the training with work was interesting. I work for the school district as a custodian. I also help manage a small company in town and I have a family. But I was able to make it work.
It is pretty incredible what you learn about firefighting, about car accidents — and we are still learning. Currently we are learning about emergency medical response.
Q: What would you tell someone who is reading this and who has perhaps thought of applying to the fire department, but who is still hesitant about it?
A: Whatever deficiencies you think you may have — whether it is physical, age, work commitments — put them aside and apply. I thought maybe I was too old; maybe I work too much. If you apply, you are going to go through the process. You will be able to talk to firefighters. So, at the very least, you are going to learn more about it and if is something you have a passion for, that is really half the battle of becoming a volunteer firefighter.
And someone who applied in the past and didn't make it the first time, should maybe try again, because, like me, you could be what they are looking for now.
Applications to become a volunteer Squamish firefighter are available for pickup at the Tantalus Fire Hall, located at 40439 Tantalus Rd.
For more information, go to squamish.ca/our-services/protective-services/fire-rescue/recruitment/.
Squamish Fire Rescue recruitment video