The North Fork fire hall (George Evans) is no longer in imminent danger of closing, according to Grand Forks Fire/Rescue.
The department put out an urgent call to area residents in mid-May, warning that the hall at 11331 Granby Rd might not be able to protect their homes due to a lack of volunteer firefighters. A loss of “fire protection status” would have triggered a significant bump in local home insurance costs, according to the Fire Underwriters Survey, which provides statistical data used by Canadian insurance companies.
Local farmer Matt Sagal was the only one to show up when the hall hosted a recruitment drive on May 11.
At least 11 more potential recruits joined Sagal when he came to George Evans’ next recruitment drive Wednesday evening, May 26.
“I was born and raised on (my parents’) farm, and we didn’t want to lose the fire hall,” he told The Gazette. Sagal said he hoped his volunteer service would set a good example for his children.
Wednesday’s event also drew recent arrivals Megan and Josie Lee and their partners Dustin Schieck and Andrew Nelson, the oldest of whom was in their early 30’s.
“We all live on the same property,” Megan said, adding that she and Dustin moved to the area two years ago.
“We’re farmers on Brown Creek East and we didn’t want to see the hall close.”
Kathy and Keith Trayler said it was “lovely” to see the young couples’ interest in serving their community.
“We thought we might need to put in some work, ourselves,” Kathy said.
Wednesday’s turnout strongly suggests that the fire hall won’t have to close its doors any time soon.
“I think it speaks volumes, very positively, for the future of our North Fork hall,” Fire Chief George Seigler said before the night was out.
“Looking at the potential that we have for recruits — it’s awesome. This is a significant increase over our last open house, so I’m very, very pleased.”
Dep. Fire Chief Rich Piché said he’d recently interviewed four strong candidates who wanted to join the hall. Asked if the fire hall was firmly out of jeopardy, Piché answered, “I’m less concerned. Ask me that question once we get the recruit class going and I see that people are actually into it and doing it; that they haven’t changed their mind.”
Piché said interested recruits showed a “very strong work ethic.”
“That’s promising. I’m really optimistic, given the interest we saw at the fire hall.”
Piché said the department will start training recruits in early June.
Those interested in volunteering are asked to either to call Grand Forks Fire/Rescue’s non-emergency line at 250-442-3612 or to visit the department’s new website at grandforksfirerescue.com.