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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Fire open houses teach youth to “Look. Listen. Learn!”

- Essex Fire & Rescue to take on six new recruits -

by Sylene Argent

Local youth had a chance to discover what it is like to be a firefighter last Wednesday evening as Essex Fire & Rescue hosted open houses at all three local stations, in recognition of Fire Prevention Week.

  At the open houses, youth were able to ask safety questions of firefighters, who were dressed in their full equipment, take a ride in a fire truck, learn to handle a firehouse, and get pictures taken with Sparky the Fire Dog.

  Although the annual Fire Prevention Week open houses offer youth a myriad of fun activities, the event offered firefighters a unique opportunity to reach out to teach families about fire prevention and safety, the importance of having working smoke alarms and Carbon Monoxide detectors, and to always have an escape plan in place.

   This year’s Fire Prevention Week theme was, “Look. Listen. Learn!” In keeping with this year’s theme, families learned just how important implementing an escape plan can be. Visitors to the stations were taught to “Look” for places a fire could start. “Listen” for the sound of the smoke alarm. And, “Learn” two ways out of every room.

  “The open houses went well,” Essex Fire & Rescue’s Assistant Deputy Chief, Jason Pillon, said.  One of the main messages of the night was, “Be aware. Fire can happen anywhere.”

  In addition to all of the fun activities offered to youth at the Fire Prevention Open Houses, Pillon said a bike raffle and colouring contest were also held. The winners of these contests will be recognized in the coming weeks.

  “I can’t stress enough, only working smoke alarms save lives. They should be placed outside bedrooms and on every level of a home. Carbon Monoxide detectors should be placed outside all sleeping areas. If anyone has any concerns about their smoke alarm or Carbon Monoxide detector, contact Essex Fire. We would be glad to help.”

  Pillon was pleased with the turnout at all three open houses. “The fire truck rides are always a hit,” he said.

  The open house also offered a great opportunity for those who may be interested in becoming a firefighter to learn about what the role entails as Essex is currently looking to hire new recruits.

  Those interested in learning more about becoming a volunteer firefighter can attend one of two open houses. The first recruitment open house will take place on Tuesday, October 23, from 6:30 to 8 p.m., inside the Shaheen Community Room at the Essex Centre Sports Complex. The second open house will take place on Wednesday, October 24, from 6:30 to 8 p.m., inside the Community Room at the Harrow and Colchester South Community Centre.

  Essex Fire Chief Rick Arnel said there are currently six openings in Essex Fire & Recuse; four at Station at 2 in Gesto and two at Station 1 in Essex Centre. There could be more positions opening up, as well.

  There has been a change to the selection process, Arnel explained, which will be explained at the two open houses in October.

  The selection process will include an aptitude test through the national fire selection testing. A company based out of Mississauga will administer the test. Candidates will either pass or fail. If a pass is achieved, a candidate will then move on in the process to undergo medical and clinical testing in Mississauga to test endurance.

  If a candidate makes it through that phase, they will make it to the interview process.

  Previously, once a candidate got a pass, they were brought into the fire station to lift hoses, climb ladders, and complete other firefighting-related tasks.

  “The former testing was not conducive to everyone applying. We want to hire a more-diverse work force,” Arnel said. “I am hoping [this testing process] works and I am hoping we will get more diversity. Our department should be a representation of the people we serve. We need to be a face of what our community is. I’m very optimistic.”

  Arnel is hoping to have the new recruits in place by April 1. At that point, they can then start their 12-month firefighter training program.

  More information about the fire recruitment campaign can be found at 


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