Here’s a surprising stat: Canada boasts more than 85,000 volunteer firefighters.
That’s, volunteer, as in unpaid — these brave men and women risk their lives every time an alarm is sounded for very little or no remuneration.
“We do what we do because in many cases, the community needs protection,” explains Martin Bell, Nova-Scotia-based president of the Canadian Volunteer Fire Services Association. “The local municipality doesn’t necessarily have the funds to have a career fire department to provide the service that they need.”
Bell estimates that there are approximately 3500 volunteer fire stations located across Canada, with volunteers often donating upwards of 25 hours of personal time a month to ensure public safety.
They’re also responsible for purchasing their own equipment and custom-built uniform, which could add up to $6000.
“It usually costs about $2500 to equip one firefighter with a helmet, protective burn equipment, gloves, your bunker suit, which is usually heat-and-fire retardant — and that suit is normally built to the size of individual to meet their height, weight and waistline,” Bell explains. “So it’s not like you can order a couple of suits and hang them in the fire station for anyone to use.”
Bell says there’s also the breathing apparatus that you would don with a tank and mask in addition to your suit. “That would very well add another $3500,” he explains.
Volunteers undergo the same amount of rigorous training, usually 200 hours worth, before they’re ready to go out on calls.
* Samaritanmag.com is an online magazine covering the good deeds of individuals, charities and businesses.