Keremeos and District Volunteer Fire Department has a number of new recruits that offer the department youthful versatility and an interest in learning. Above all, they enjoy the opportunity that being a firefighter gives them to assist the community.
David Schwetje is one of the Keremeos and District Volunteer Fire Department’s newest recruits, having started under the department’s unique student training program last September.
“My dad was on the department, and I always looked up to him for that,” Schwetje said. He is also committed to giving something back to the community.
“I hope I’ll be able to help people,” he said, “that’s my main reason for joining.”
Schwetje said he enjoys practices, especially those involving vehicle extrication using Jaws and other powerful hydraulic tools.
“Taking apart a car is always fun,” he said.
Schwetje said he found the firehall environment “a little intimidating at first” but found things got friendly very quickly. He has already been on a call involving a fully involved structure, which he found adrenalin pumping.
“I did what I could to help,” he said.
John Periera has been on the Keremeos and District Volunteer Fire Department for two years now. The 38 year old had a friend in the department who encouraged him.
“I’m always interested in learning new things,” he said, “and in joining up their was a bonus, in that I made a whole bunch of new friends.”
Periera enjoys the challenges of each call, noting there are always things that don’t go according to plan, and each incident had to be approached in a thoughtful manner.
“In practises, I learn something new each week,” he said, “and the other firefighters are good at keeping things light and upbeat – they’re a good group of people.”
Jesse Walters has been on the Keremeos and District Volunteer Fire Department for a year and a half. The 28 year old and his wife, who teaches, bought a house in the area and wanted to do something to help out in the community, as well as meet people.
“Joining the fire department has exceeded my expectations with respect to what I hoped to get out of it,” he said. “I’ve learned things in the past year and half that I didn’t think I’d learn in 10 years.”
Walters finds responding to a call much like engaging in a sports activity.
“There’s an adrenalin rush, and that need to be on top of the situation,” he said.
Walters spoke to a number of members already on the department before applying. He also had family in Kamloops who were volunteer firefighters, so, as he said, he “knew what I was getting into.”