Nova Scotia

'Critical shortage' of volunteer firefighters along Eastern Shore

The Halifax Region has put out a call for anyone interested in being a volunteer firefighter at one of 29 rural stations across the municipality.

Some stations are staffed with just 4 or 5 members

Anyone over 18 can be a volunteer, but must pass some physical tests. (mat277/Shutterstock )

The Halifax region has put out a call for anyone interested in being a volunteer firefighter at one of 29 rural stations across the municipality.

Fire officials say there is a critical shortage, particularly along the Eastern Shore, where some stations are staffed with just four or five members.

"Sixteen is the ideal number for us," said Phil McNulty, a spokesperson for Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency. "That's really the safe level for us to work at. That's what we're striving for."

Phil McNulty is a spokesperson for Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency. (CBC)

Anyone over 18 can be a volunteer, but no matter what your age, you have to pass some physical tests.

"We have to ensure their safety, the safety of their co-workers and the public," said McNulty. "So the rules are more stringent."

Eleven of the rural fire stations have career firefighters during the day from Monday to Friday and volunteers covering evenings, weekends and statutory holidays. But fire officials say it's not financially feasible to do that at all the stations.

According to Halifax Fire, the first step in becoming a volunteer firefighter is completing volunteer training, where volunteers learn the basics of being a first responder.

Volunteers then undergo an average of 25 to 35 hours per month of additional training.

The first of several recruitment sessions will take place on Saturday at the Meagher's Grant Community Hall.

About the Author

Pam Berman

Reporter

Pam Berman is CBC Nova Scotia's municipal affairs reporter. She's been a journalist for almost 35 years and has covered Halifax regional council since 1997. That includes four municipal elections, 19 budgets and countless meetings. Story ideas can be sent to pam.berman@cbc.ca