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Potential recruits learn about what it takes to join Essex Fire & Rescue



by Sylene Argent  

It takes a special kind of person to want to become a hometown hero; to be a part of a team that runs into a crisis situation when everyone else is running away.

  Currently, Essex Fire & Rescue has six available spaces for new firefighters at two of the three stations within the Municipality of Essex.

 Those interested in serving their community as a volunteer firefighter were able to learn about the role, from those who walk that walk, last week as the Town of Essex hosted a Firefighter Recruitment Open House in Essex and Harrow Centres.

  At the open houses, potential recruits were able to connect with current firefighters to ask questions about this important role, view firefighting equipment, and learn about the new selection process.

  Captain Mark Sweeney is posted at Essex Station #1. His career with Essex Fire & Rescue began 17 years ago. He recalled an average day working at Chryslers, when he spotted a co-worker with the Station Operating Guidelines handbook.

  He learned his co-worker was a firefighter in Amherstburg, who encouraged Sweeney to visit the Essex station to learn what firefighting was all about.

  “It is very exciting,” Sweeney said of being a firefighter. “The guys, when you walk in, they treat you like they already know you.”

  That visit to the Essex Centre fire hall was enough to hook Sweeney on the profession. 17 years later, he enjoys meeting with new recruits and teaching them everything he has come to learn over the years.

  Though part of being a firefighter is having to deal with some very critical situations, Sweeney said he believes those extreme instances are fewer now than when he began, thanks to all the public education Essex Fire & Rescue does.

  Taking on a firefighting role means taking time away from family to answer calls or to complete training. Sweeney’s wife, Joceline, said her husband does miss out on some family events or moments, but everyone understands how important being a firefighter is to the community.

  Joceline said her husband’s role with Essex Fire & Rescue is one that has influenced their three daughters to be community-minded.   

    There has been a change to the firefighter selection process, which 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.

  Essex Fire Chief Arnel hopes that the new testing will create more diversity on Essex Fire & Rescue. He said the firefighting team needs to be a reflection of the community in which it serves.

  Arnel noted time is important to everyone, so those who join the force are certainly appreciated.

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

  Those looking to become a firefighter will be required to cover costs of the testing, which will total around $250. Those funds will be returned to those who are selected. The local fire service will then pay those selected into the program to train, he said.

  Manager of Human Resources, Brandi Sieben, was pleased that the Town had received many applications before the open house, and was excited to see how many more would file in after those interested were able to learn more at the recruitment open houses.

  Anyone who wants to get involved has until November 16 to apply.

  More information about the fire recruitment, or to learn how to apply, log onto www.essex.ca/FireRecruits

© 2020 The Essex Free Press ltd.

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