Meet Dave Hentschel, a volunteer firefighter for BX-Swan Lake Fire and Rescue. Thinking of volunteering? Learn how to join the team.
In late 2006, my career as a social worker with the BC Public Service led me back to my home town of Vernon, B.C. where I settled into the growing community of BX - Swan Lake. Quite quickly, two friends challenged me to consider applying to the local volunteer fire department, BX-Swan Lake Fire Rescue. I became fully intrigued about the opportunity to give back to my community in a way I had never imagined. Despite a few doubts about my personal experience, I shadowed my friends on the team and got hooked.
Following three hiring interviews that included a face-to-face with our fire chief, I entered recruit training in March 2007. The initial recruit course consisted of four weeks of theory, practical training and testing. A strong emphasis on public safety and firefighter safety all prepared me for real fire scenario testing at a training grounds "burn building". After becoming a new recruit, I spent the majority of evenings and weekends completing First Responder Medical training, Driver and Truck Operations professional training, and becoming familiar with situations the volunteer hall responds to on a 24/7, 365 days a year basis.
The most rewarding part of my five years of volunteer fire
service remains "being there" for individuals and families in my
community during a time of injury, a time of real worry, or a time of potential
loss. As a volunteer firefighter you are not only part of a highly
trained team, the fire service presents endless opportunities for solving
real life problems, in real-time. On any given day, our volunteers
may interact with highway crews, tourists, police, SPCA
authorities, medical professionals, families of all descriptions, and lone
individuals who simply need a helping hand in a very difficult and/or dangerous
My advice for those interested in firefighting is to visit their local department and research the volunteer opportunities presented. You will find the members of your local station inviting, giving of their time, and grounded in the day-to-day experiences of the fire service. Keep in mind, your family plays a large role in supporting you when you are responding to a call during your evening meal or weekend outing, or responding to a 2 a.m. car accident. The hours can be demanding but the personal return and rewards for service are unparallelled.
Volunteer firefighting presents an opportunity to give back to those wanting to further develop their life experience. Looking back at my first five years with BX Swan Lake Fire Rescue, I realize that I have joined a team of men and women who are committed to giving back. I have gained life long friends at the department. I have encountered some of the bravest and resilient citizens - and it is citizens that matter the most.
It's time to join British Columbia's emergency volunteer lifeline and support National Volunteer Week 2012. Visit EmergencyInfoBC to learn more.