The Steinbach Fire Department is currently accepting applications for new members looking to join their team. And, a public information night is taking place this week, where applicants and their partners can learn more about the position.

Sam Murray is a veteran firefighter with the Steinbach Department. He says right now they are looking to recruit between 10 and 12 new firefighters. In order to give interested individuals an idea of what is expected of a Steinbach firefighter, a public information meeting is being held on Tuesday, May 14th at the Steinbach Fire Hall, beginning at 7 pm. But the night is not only for interested applicants. Murray says it is also an opportunity for family members to find out firsthand what it is that their loved one is signing up for.

"Loved ones can ask the questions that the firefighters don't necessarily want to ask or aren't thinking of," says Murray.

He notes family members are always interested to know how dangerous the job is, what sort of training is required, how time-consuming the position is, and what the expectations are. 

"We often say that it's family first before fire," says Murray. "But when the pager goes off and it's all members on hand to respond, then, unfortunately, the fire is going to take precedence."

And Murray says he is all too familiar with having his pager go off at the most inopportune time, including at Christmas, while celebrating an anniversary or a kid's birthday. 

"We don't get to decide when the pager goes off," says Murray. "It's a sacrifice on the family as well."

Kayla Penner has been with the Steinbach Fire Department for just over two years. She refers to it as a lifestyle. Penner says when the alarms sound, you are not thinking about who you left behind. You are busy while your loved ones sit there without you. 

According to Murray, some minimum requirements must be met before the Steinbach Fire Department is even willing to consider an applicant. He or she must be at least 18 years of age to apply and must have their Grade 12 diploma. Murray points out that the Grade 12 diploma is a requirement to get certified through the Manitoba Emergency Services College. He notes the applicant will also do some First Aid/ CPR training and will have to get their Class 4 driver's license and air brake certification. 

Penner adds as a new recruit, you can expect one training night per week for about six months. She refers to the training as difficult, but very good. 

Murray says when it comes time to attending fire calls, this can certainly be overwhelming for a rookie. He notes there is also that adrenaline rush of the pager going off for the first time. On scene, the rookies are paired with another senior member.

"They are going to definitely be deer in the headlights for a minute or two," he points out. "Once they get moving and get into the action, their training takes over and they know what they are doing, and they feel good afterward."

Penner says her first week as a Steinbach firefighter was "crazy." Not only did she fight a big house fire, but that was also the week of the massive fire in downtown Steinbach that destroyed a strip mall. 

Murray says the Steinbach Fire Department is more than a team, it is a family. 

"We put each other's lives in each other's hands all the time that we go into things," he says. "That family bond, we don't get that a lot of other places the same. Just because of the level of risk and the sacrifice that we all put in, we all understand what it takes to do this."

"You trust your officers and your trainers," adds Penner. "I would follow them anywhere."


With files from Corny Rempel and Dave Anthony