The Labrador City Fire Department has begun training new recruits.
Almost 40 applications were combed over to select the 12 they would be taking on, the largest application process the station has had yet.
Fire chief Joe Power said three years ago the station started doing things differently with recruitment.
“Before if you were on the fire department you'd look at the chief and say 'I've got a buddy who wants to be on the fire department' and we'd bring him in and have a look at him. But now everyone fills out an application and will be interviewed, and we'll go from there.”
The main requirement is to have no major medical confections, such as heart problems, and a driver’s license.
“After that we’re going to train them. You can get first aid through us and we can bring you right up to a level 2 fire fighters, and you’ll get your gold seal certificates from Oklahoma University.”
Power said with the standards from Occupational Health and Safety and NFPA standards, it’s a different recruitment process than previous years.
“The 12 people coming in won’t see the inside of a burning building for a year. We put them through the whole process of firefighting first.”
Power said it’s a good, fair process.
“Everybody gets an equal opportunity, and we can also select from the best of them. The last group we selected eight out of 22. I'm sure there all good candidates and dedication is the big thing.”
Black helmets are being worn by the last group of recruits to come in to make sure rookies are teamed up with seasoned firefighters.
“So at three o'clock in the morning when we're called to a fire, we know that the guy with a black helmet on is a new recruit, so we're not sending two black helmets in. We'll send them with someone with a yellow helmet. When they have their masks up you can't tell who they are, so the black helmets let us know it's a new recruit, he just finished his orientation and he's good to go but he'll go with someone more experienced.”
Powers said dedication is an important requirement when it comes to volunteering for the department, who train every second Monday evening.
“When you’re off you have to attend fire calls, fire prevention week and programs like that, and parades and ceremonies. But the big thing is to get people to be interested in it.”
Power said the station is busier this year than it’s ever been. Last year they received the most calls ever at 106, and this year they’re already up to 120.
“It’s different calls. We’ve had more working fires this year than we’ve had the past three years. There are vehicle accidents, hazmats, ice water rescues.”
Power said it’s not false alarms anymore.
“A few years ago we’d get maybe 70 or 80 calls, and you could bank on half of them being false alarms. But it’s not like that anymore. There are more people here and more vehicles, and that can bring more trouble.”