Hosmer Fire Department captain and volunteer firefighter, Shelley Vaness. Kimberley Vlasic/The Free Press

Hosmer Fire Department captain and volunteer firefighter, Shelley Vaness. Kimberley Vlasic/The Free Press

Volunteer fire departments “a very big family”

Hosmer volunteer firefighter rallies residents to join the under-staffed service

When Shelley Vaness moved to Hosmer 27 years ago, one of the first things she did was sign up with her local volunteer fire department.

In doing so she gained not only new skills but an extended family.

“It is a very big family and we enjoy each other’s company,” said Vaness.

“There’s a lot of camaraderie that comes with it and there’s a sense of satisfaction that you’re doing everything you can for your community.

“Plus we’re learning some very valuable lessons, some very valuable tools that we can use not only through the fire service but at our homes with our children, at our jobs. There are many things that we learn that we can transfer, fire safety-wise.”

Vaness is a captain at the Hosmer Fire Department, one of four departments operated by the Regional District of East Kootenay in the Elk Valley and South Country.

There have been many changes at Hosmer since Vaness joined the service 27 years ago, but not all are positive.

“We have rebuilt part of the fire hall, we have bought new equipment, we’re under a new training program,” she said.

“The only downside of the changes is the fact that we’ve lost too many members.”

At Hosmer, there are only nine people on the roster when the ideal number is 15 or more.

Other RDEK fire departments are facing the same challenge and have been forced to rely on mutual aid agreements when responding to incidents.

Vaness said the lack of volunteers made it difficult at times.

“Our responses are good, they could be better, better timed with more people available,” she said.

“Our tactics have to change depending on the number of personnel we have. We also fortunately have mutual aid agreements with other local departments, so that helps us to make our response more effective.”

In a bid to attract more volunteers, the RDEK recently introduced a benefits package for firefighters that includes life insurance, extended health, dental and an employee assistance program.

Vaness hopes to get the word out about the benefits, which come on top of free training and a pay package for training and call outs.

She encouraged others to consider joining the department.

“First and foremost to be part of your community. Instead of just living in a community you’re actually being active with the community and getting involved with the community,” she said.

“It allows you to get to know some of your neighbours that you wouldn’t otherwise know and the training that we get and the way we work together, you can take that away to your other job or to your home or to your neighbours and family to make things that much safer for them,” she said.

“The pay package isn’t great but it’s there, so if you do have to take a little bit of time off work for an incident you’re compensated for it.

“The benefit package is a definite bonus because there are a lot of jobs out there that don’t have extended medical.”

Hosmer volunteer firefighters are expected to attend at least one training session a month, held on Tuesday evenings, and respond to as many calls as possible.

Vaness works full-time at Canadian Tire, while her colleagues also juggle jobs with volunteering.

Anyone who is interested in joining the Hosmer fire department is invited to attend training on Tuesday, which runs from 7 p.m. until about 9-9:30 p.m.

“Come out and see what we do, see if it’s something you’d like to do or even somehow from the sidelines, help support us,” said Vaness.

“The more members we have, the more we can do, the more we can help you.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Elvira D’Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
110 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Provincial health officers announced 1,005 new cases throughout B.C.

It costs as little as $7 to charge an EV at home. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)
Electric Vehicles a rare sight (in the Kootenays), but change on the way

Electric pickups will increase the appeal of zero-emission vehicles in years to come according to Blair Qualey of the New Car Dealers Association

Linda Krawczyk and her dad Doug Finney enjoyed a ride around beautiful Fernie on Friday thanks to Melanie Wrigglesworth and the local chapter of Cycling Without Age. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)
Cycling Without Age goes for its first spin

Doug Finney (86) got to enjoy a ride around Fernie

The Cranbrook Community Forest is good to go for mountain biking. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)
Snow’s done, time to hit the trails

South Country trails are good to go

Interior Health nurses administer Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines to seniors and care aids in Kelowna on Tuesday, March 16. (Phil McLachlan/Kelowna Capital News)
69 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

The total number of cases in the region is now at 9,840 since the pandemic began

Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

Lord Tweedsmuir’s Tremmel States-Jones jumps a player and the goal line to score a touchdown against the Kelowna Owls in 2019. The face of high school football, along with a majority of other high school sports, could significantly change if a new governance proposal is passed at the B.C. School Sports AGM May 1. (Malin Jordan)
Power struggle: New governance model proposed for B.C. high school sports

Most commissions are against the new model, but B.C. School Sports (BCSS) and its board is in favour

Pall Bearers carrying the coffin of the Duke of Edinburgh, followed by the Prince of Wales, left and Princess Anne, right, into St George’s Chapel for his funeral, at Windsor Castle, in Windsor, England, Saturday April 17, 2021. (Danny Lawson/Pool via AP)
Trudeau announces $200K donation to Duke of Edinburgh award as Prince Philip laid to rest

A tribute to the late prince’s ‘remarkable life and his selfless service,’ the Prime Minister said Saturday

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

B.C. homeowners are being urged to take steps to prepare for the possibility of a flood by moving equipment and other assets to higher ground. (J.R. Rardon)
‘Entire province faces risk’: B.C. citizens urged to prepare for above-average spring flooding

Larger-than-normal melting snowpack poses a threat to the province as warmer weather touches down

Vancouver-based Doubleview Gold Corp. is developing claims in an area north of Telegraph Creek that occupies an important place in Tahltan oral histories, said Chad Norman Day, president of the Tahltan Central Government. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO)
B.C. Indigenous nation opposes mineral exploration in culturally sensitive area

There’s “no way” the Tahltan would ever support a mine there, says Chad Norman Day, president of its central government

Stz’uminus Elder George Harris, Ladysmith Mayor Aaron Stone, and Stz’uminus Chief Roxanne Harris opened the ceremony. (Cole Schisler photo)
Symbolic red dresses rehung along B.C. highway after vandals tore them down

Leaders from Stz’uminus First Nation and the Town of Ladysmith hung new dresses on Sat. April 17

A Western toadlet crosses the centre line of Elk View Road in Chilliwack on Aug. 26, 2010. A tunnel underneath the road has since been installed to help them migrate cross the road. Saturday, April 24 is Save the Frogs Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Progress File)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of April 18 to 24

Save the Frogs Day, Love Your Thighs Day and Scream Day are all coming up this week

Local carpenter Tyler Bohn embarked on a quest to create the East Sooke Treehouse, after seeing people build similar structures on a Discovery Channel show. (East Sooke Treehouse Facebook photo)
PHOTOS: B.C. carpenter builds fort inspired by TV’s ‘Treehouse Masters’

The whimsical structure features a wooden walking path, a loft, kitchen – and is now listed on Airbnb

Most Read