In order to aid in recruitment and retention and provide for volunteer firefighters’ welfare, Grand Forks Fire Rescue is now offering benefits.
Dale Heriot, Grand Forks’ fire chief, said the dental plan will provide basic coverage and an extended health plan will include coverage for such items as prescriptions and hospital visits, a small life insurance benefit and an employee assistance program.
“For the volunteers that don’t have any benefits at all, we’ve begun with a base program to provide dental and extended health and it is a base level and we’re hoping to improve that along the way,” explained Heriot. “The volunteers that we have with us that have some benefits, they will get a health spending account with us, where they can use their health spending account card for prescriptions and all that kind of stuff.”
Heriot said the program took effect on May 1 and it would be interesting to see what that does for numbers in the department.
He said that while Grand Forks Fire Rescue isn’t currently in a membership numbers crunch, it could always use more volunteers.
“We’re not hurting but we could use more members, especially out in the rural areas – we could certainly use a few more out there but we’re not hurting out there either,” said Heriot. “Having a few guys working up north in camps (day jobs) and stuff like that, when they’re back home, we’re in really good shape and when they’re (up north) we’re a bit tight – it would just nice to have that buffer. I’d rather have way too many than not enough.”
People interested in becoming a volunteer firefighter for Grand Forks Fire Rescue must be at least 19 years of age, have a Class 5 driver’s licence, in good shape physically and committed to the department.
Volunteers must also be within driving distance of one of the fire stations – Heriot said within five kilometres.
The department will also provide some training.
“Things like air brake training, we supply that for them and down the road, we’ll need some Class 3 drivers and we will train some people and if there are some that are Class 3 already, that’s fantastic,” said Grand Forks’ fire chief.
Interested members can call the department at 240-442-3612.