New recruits for Lethbridge Fire and Emergency Services (LFES) got hands-on training this week. Mark Matheson, fire training officer, said 12 new firefighters were part of the training session on June 1. The new people will help the department, but Matheson said more recruits are still needed and there will be more hiring in the fall.
“We are not a very large department. We have about 160-170 members in suppression, so that’s not a huge amount,” he said. “Even two or three extra make a world of difference for that amount of people just to fill holes that we have — we have a lot of holes to fill. These guys will definitely alleviate some of that impact but we are still going to be short.”
The next step in training is a mentorship program where trainees will be on the street working alongside experienced crews.
“I love working with new recruits,” Matheson said. “They don’t have any preconceived notions about procedures. They are doing the best they can — they are trying to impress upon us that they can do the job well so they are really eager and easy to work with.” He said the mentorship will begin in Late July.
Trainee Robert Cloherty comes from the EMS side of emergency response and said the hands-on fire training is valuable to help get a feeling of the real life application of his textbook knowledge.
“It’s been really great. We are learning a lot of good safety techniques — how to advance forward into a house and keep our guys safe and just kind of apply all of the knowledge and stuff that’s been learnt over the past few years and put it into action,” he said. “It’s a very physically daunting profession and I think the guys here are all pretty competitive guys — we like to keep it exciting.”