Mesachie Lake’s Fire Chief Gary Eve says they need new recruits to keep the fire department going.

Mesachie Lake Volunteer Fire Department has been serving its community for over 60 years

To keep a volunteer fire department running in the Cowichan Valley Regional District is a struggle these days

To keep a volunteer fire department running in the Cowichan Valley Regional District is a struggle these days, according to Mesachie Lake’s Fire Chief Gary Eve.

Eve spoke to the Gazette on Nov. 22, the day after he attended a regional meeting of Fire Chiefs who represent the volunteer fire departments in the district.

“We need people to keep our fire departments going,” Eve said. “And in this day and age, the last thing people want to do is volunteer, let alone volunteer for something that is dangerous.”

Eve says it’s not just the Mesachie Lake Volunteer Fire Department, but all the volunteer fire departments in the CVRD that are having this problem. And so, at the meeting, the Fire Chiefs decided on a plan of action.

“We decided to get in touch with the media, and get the word out,” Eve said. “We need to recruit people, so we’re going to try to work on recruitment and retention.

“We are a small fire department, we cover a large area, and we have a very limited budget,” added Eve. “Our annual budget is less than the average person makes in a year. It’s all volunteer and I’m very proud of it.”

The Mesachie Lake Volunteer Fire Department (VFD) has been serving the community for over 60 years. It originated as the Mesachie Lake Fire Brigade in 1949 under the direction of J.G. Webster, then steam engineer for Hillcrest Lumber Company.

In those days, its services protected the community and the mill. Today, the Mesachie Lake VFD serves the people who have chosen the quality of life that comes with living in a small community, such as any one of the many small towns that dot the circumference of Lake Cowichan.

But along with that quality of life, there is a certain isolation – isolation from the services that city-dwellers are lucky enough to have at hand through their tax-base rate.

 

“We don’t have a budget to pay people,” Eve stated frankly. “We live in a place where there is a small tax base, and we can’t pay people.”

Eve say it is not just his fire department, the problem is the same for all the small volunteer fire departments in the region.

Even without having to pay the firemen, there are expenses in running the department.

 

Eve says they have access to Gaming Grants that help to pay the cost of running the rescue truck, heating the Fire Hall, et cetera. And the volunteers have to attend training sessions to keep up with fire procedures, as well as weekly practises. Keeping up with regulatory training sessions is imperative, Eve stresses.

“We still have to maintain the same training as the other firefighters who are paid,” he commented. “In the past few years, the circle route has brought in a different category of calls for us, a lot faster accident scenes, a lot messier accidents, and again, taking more training to do it.”

The Mesachie Lake VFD are always on the lookout for new members, including women.

What are the requirements for being a firefighter?

“Healthy and willing,” Eve states. “Able to put in a couple of hours a week, and not mind being woken up at two in the morning.

“We get very few afternoon calls,” he added with a grimace.

The big thing that comes out of belonging to a volunteer fire brigade, though, is the camaraderie between the men – and women – who elect to serve their communities.

Fire Chief Eve welcomes anyone who would like to come out to a regular Monday night practice (usually 6:30 p.m.) to show up, or else phone the department and talk to anyone there, 250-749-6722.

 

Just Posted

VIDEO: ‘My Funny Valentine’ delves into effect of tragedy

When a teenage boy is killed for an innocent question, the answers are hard to take

Marijuana to be legal in Canada Oct. 17: Trudeau

Prime Minister made the announcement during question period in the House of Commons

Re/Max of Duncan under new ownership

Former owner Cordell Ensign retiring

Ravens scrape together a championship team

BSB’s Haslam named league MVP

VIDEO: Ken Calder, Tony Feltrin honoured on Heritage Sports Wall of Fame

With stories, and a few laughs over old stories, two new names are added to the Lake Cowichan wall

In reversal, Trump signs executive order to stop family separation

President had been wrongly insisting he had no choice but to separate families apprehended at border

UPDATED: Polygamous wife appeals conviction in B.C. child bride case

Emily Blackmore was found guilty of taking her underage daughter to U.S. to marry church leader

Marine trail planned for Discovery Islands

Agreements with First Nations vital for passage through traditional territories

B.C. sets deadline for Indigenous salmon farm consent

All 120 operations will need agreements by 2022, province says

Family of 4 from Oregon believed to be missing in northern B.C.

RCMP, Search and Rescue crews searching area where vehicle was abandoned

B.C. creates public registry to track real estate owners

The first registry of its kind in Canada aims to end the hidden property ownership

Police watchdog called to Kelowna after car destroyed in crash

A motor vehicle incident has closed Highway 33 in both directions

BC SPCA receives 400 reports of dogs in hot cars so far this year

Society is again urging people to leave their pets at home if they can’t keep them safe in the heat

8 B.C. communities rank as the friendliest in Canada

Eight B.C. communities can claim they are the friendliest in the country.

Most Read