Erika Hebert said she became a volunteer firefighter with Station 42 in Wellington to give back to her community. She encourages others, especially women, to stop by and see how they can join. Training takes place every Tuesday night, and members are usually on hand to answer questions from those interested in joining. (Healey photo)

HRM Fire stations looking to community to add new blood

WELLINGTON: Making a difference in your community can make you feel satisfaction, and that’s what several local volunteer firefighters from Station 42 (Wellington) and Station 43 (Grand Lake) say they do.

However, in order to protect the community to the best of their ability both stations require a few more good men and women to add to their volunteer departments.

Erika Hebert spoke about the female involvement of volunteer firefighters.

“This is an opportunity for young women in the community who want to find a way to give back and to find a way to find strength in yourself,” said Hebert. “I find volunteering gives you a lot of that. It gives you a lot of people skills, medical skills, and a solid background in the first responder world.

“It really is a way for women of all ages to find a way to find your inner strength and be proud of something.”

She said she wanted to become a volunteer as a way to help others. She said being part of the fire service has let her meet people and is rewarding.

“The community is important to me,” she said. “It’s nice to know there’s a way to feel strong even as a female individual. It’s a way to show that anybody can do it.

“It’s shaped me into the woman I am today.”

Firefighters bunker gear and helmets hang at the ready inside Station 42 in Wellington. (Healey photo)

Marc Rothwell first started in 1986 after a job as a captain with a Canadian Coast Guard ship.

“Volunteering as firefighter is more hands on out here in the rural area,” said Rothwell.

He said there’s a great social aspect to being a volunteer firefighter—from different skill sets to trades and a variety of backgrounds.

“The big thing I find now is there’s more training and we’re even more hands-on than when I first joined,” said Rothwell..

Rothwell said now that he’s retired, he’s around more often.

“I’m able to respond now and go wherever we’re needed,” he said. “You can make a difference.”

Jeff Pickrem started in the junior firefighter program at age 14 in Waverley. He has moved up to being a Station Chief in Wellington. He has been through a lot of peaks and valleys.

“Over the years when I became an active member at 18, we had 32 volunteer members in Waverley,” he said. “If you stopped to change your clothes when the pager went off, you missed the first three trucks. And I lived within two minutes of the station.”

He said the volunteer community is drying up for almost anything.

“Our numbers here are climbing, but so is the number of people in the community,” said Pickrem.

If you’re on the fence about joining, Hebert had some good advice. Just do it.

“The best thing I can say is come talk to us, get a tour of the fire station and our trucks,” she said. “It’s not something you should be afraid to try. If you’re seriously interested, you will be welcomed with open arms. Help is always needed.”

Station 42 and 43 train on Tuesday nights, beginning at 7 p.m. Residents are encouraged to drop by to find out more about becoming a volunteer firefighter.