Recruits in Training

A well equipped fire department with a trained team of dedicated women and men fire fighters are at the heart of small communities.

The recent recruiting campaign for fire fighters in Tumbler Ridge using posters, advertisements, and word-of-mouth brought out the highest number of recruits ever. Three women and nine men signed in for the fire fighters training with the Tumbler Ridge Fire Department.

Wild fires, structure fires, motor vehicle accidents and handling of hazardous material are the main aspects of fire fighter?s training. The new recruits will go through theory and drill during their six month training period.

Firm procedures rule the life of a fire fighter. Accuracy, cleanness, respect and obedience are crucial in a case of emergency. Hospital-like environment, meticulous order and clear communication is a must to guarantee a quick response to an emergency call. Every second counts in this job of saving lives or assets.

This was the clear message from Fire Chief Tim Lee, Deputy Fire Chief Matt Treit, and Captain Diana Vandale on Wednesday March 19th when nine of the twelve recruits attended the first session of their training. The recruits, now probationary members or ?Probies? were introduced to the organizational structure of the Fire Department and its relationship to the District of Tumbler Ridge and the Fire Fighters Association.

After the successful completion of their training the fire fighter becomes a member of the Fire Fighters Association. The next step is membership in the Fire Department.

In his presentation to the ?Probies? Tumbler Ridge Fire Chief Tim Lee showed exquisite professionalism. Focused and straight to the point Lee walked the new members through the basic information and orientation. After a short introduction of the staff and new members the recruits were handed out very impressive ?Probies 10 commandments? for safe navigation and correct conduct in the Fire Hall.

A highlight of this first hour was Matt Treit?s 15th birthday as a fire fighter. Fire Chief Tim Lee acknowledged Matt Treit?s qualifications and the experience he has gained over these 15 years.

Captain Diana Vandale who has two more years to celebrate her 15th ?fire fighter?s birthday? was also acknowledged by the Fire Chief for her professionalism.

When the time came to see the apparatus, the impressive trucks, and learn the organization of the gear storage only one silent observer was left behind; ?Rescue Randy? the training dummy.

This evening was the first of 25 regular training sessions that will be held every Wednesday from 7:00PM to 10:00 PM. For the members who cannot attend the Wednesday session there is an alternative Friday session.

In addition to the regular training there also will be special first response training and extra practice. There is a lot to learn about the procedures, equipment, and operation. Some of the information requires self directed study with reading assignments. All of the new members are full employed and have decided to do this service to the public in their free time as volunteers. This is not an easy task but a really admirable choice. Thank you all!

For training purposes the recruits will use older gear which is not suitable any more to go into a fire. After the successful completion of the training each member will be provided with new custom fit gear. That is also the time when a pager and keys will be handed out. All of this is surely a great motivation for each one of the ?Probies?. Currently there is an order in place for ten new sets of gear at 2,000 dollars each.

The Tumbler Ridge Fire Department has 15 regular members and 12 recruits or probationary members. The ideal number of regular members is a minimum of 24. In case of emergency there should be six to eight fire fighters to manage effectively the (so called) interior attack. With the new women and men on board in six months the Tumbler Ridge Fire could count on having 27 fire fighters. Tim Lee encouraged the ?Probies? to deepen the experience and observe or help any time they want to.

Tim Lee took the Fire Chief position in Tumbler Ridge on February 11th 2008. The unit was called out five times under his command. His responsibility is not only the Fire Department; he is the coordinator for PEP (the Provincial Emergency Program) and the Bylaw Officer.

Education and information are important part in the fire prevention work of the Fire department. One part of it is a popular yearly event for the children in our community to win a chance to be ?Fire Chief for the Day?. Everyone is welcome to ask for information about fire safety and fire prevention which is available at the Fire Hall.

When asked ?What would be the three most important things to tell the residents?? Tim Lee answered:

1.Plan your escape

2.Check the smoke detectors, be fire-safe

3.Call 911 in emergency


To become a volunteer fire fighter the person needs to be 19 years of age, have a valid drivers license and has to be available. Criminal record check is also one of the requirements.

For more information on required qualifications or recruitment process contact the Fire Chief at 242-3939 or e-mail

We wish ?The Probies? an exciting and successful training period and look forward to the graduation ceremony. For now we give a big ?thank you? to all of our fire fighters ? the ?Probies? and the experienced.