The Winkler Fire Department (WFD) is actively recruiting new members to their team. 

WFD Chief Richard Paetzold explained, even though there are a rising number of calls for service, this isn't the reason for recruitment. 

"We do have a sufficient complement of members at this point, but we have to start planning for the future because our members are aging, and our average years of service is almost 20 years. So, we have to start planning for five years from now. That's what this recruitment is about." 

Paetzold started his career in 1990 and has served 32 years. There are four members of WFD with close to 40 years of service each, which speaks to retention. 

"The last time we recruited was in 2016, so that's six years ago. The recruitment class before that was six years previous to that. We do have a good retention rate, which again, I’m very happy, as a Fire Chief, to do that because you have more time with your members to get them all up to the same level of training before you bring in new ones. Basically, then you have all sorts of different levels of skills, and it's a little harder to juggle when it comes to training. This way, every member that's already on can be a mentor to the next crew that's coming aboard." 

Paetzold said, while no one is currently planning on quitting, there comes a time when one can no longer do the job and the department needs to be prepared for this transition in the next 5 years. 

"It takes time to bring members aboard and get them trained up to the level of service that we provide. From a firefighting perspective, that is probably the easiest part of our job, teaching new members to be firefighters, but we also provide a lot of other services such as Technical Rescue and Hazardous Materials Response. A lot of that has a lot of technical aspects to it and takes longer to get trained up on." 

(from WFD Social Media Aug 3, 2022) Wednesday night drill - Heavy lift airbag refresher.(from WFD Social Media Aug 3, 2022)
Wednesday night drill - Heavy lift airbag refresher.

Varying member availability when the call goes out plays a role in recruitment and training.  All members will be cross trained so whoever arrives at the scene, they are able to meet the needs required. 

Paetzold outlined the recruitment process for the Class of 2023.  

"Last weekend, we did our physical fitness evaluations, this weekend we're doing our aptitude evaluations, then after that comes the interview process. The goal is, is to bring 8 new members aboard, 2 for each of our four platoons. Then the training will begin in November-ish. We're hoping at this point to have them ready to go for evaluations at the Manitoba Emergency Services College in the Spring, so probably May or June." 

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