Captain Jason Symons has been a volunteer paid on-call firefighter with the District of Mission for 23 years. A recruitment drive is now underway to expand the Fire/Rescue Service.

Mission Fire Rescue Service looking for new recruits

It’s not often the fire department puts on a recruitment drive like the one that is currently underway.

Mission Fire/Rescue Service captain Jason Symons was sitting at an annual general meeting for Mission Minor Soccer Association two weeks ago when his pager sounded.

The series of high-pitched tones were unmistakable. Something was on fire and someone needed the fire department’s help.

He quietly slipped out of the meeting at the Mission Leisure Centre and made his way to Fire Station 1 on Seventh Avenue within minutes.

From the voice message, Symons already knew a structure was burning on 14th Avenue. He got into his gear, climbed aboard one of fire trucks and roared down the street towards the plume of smoke.

Even after being a firefighter for 23 years and having responded to thousands of 911 calls, adrenalin and excitement still rushed through his body.

But once on scene, his feelings were brushed aside and his training took over.

He was in his comfort zone and his instinct was to put the fire out without putting anyone or anything at risk.

“Jason is one of our senior captains,” said Mission Fire Chief Larry Watkinson, who described Symons as one of the busiest guys he knows.

Symons has been coaching soccer for years, owns a successful business, volunteers around the community, and makes a significant contribution to the local fire department.

According to Watkinson The training Symons has received with the fire department has helped him become a well-rounded individual who can face crises and hazardous situations with a sense of calm and confidence.

Symons joined the department when he was just 19 years old.

“I joined because as a kid, I was always interested in the fire department,” said Symons, who was born and raised in Mission.

Over the years, he has missed out on family celebrations, parties and countless hours of sleep because of his commitment to the department. He even skipped out on Christmas dinner one year.

Symons’ family and friends are supportive of his work, and even his three children understand what he must do.

“You get used to it,” states Symons, who doesn’t complain when he is called out at 4 a.m. and has to be at work a few hours later. “I enjoy it, and that makes it easier to get up in the middle of the night.”

Symons cannot imagine life without the fire department. The crew at the hall is his second family. They support each other in their work and personal lives.

For many firefighters, the sacrifice is overwhelmed by self-gratification, explained Watkinson.

“Paid on-call firefighters are self-motivated individuals who want to do well for the community and serve those impacted by tragedy.”

They have a high level of integrity and moral ethics, which is why people put their complete trust and faith in them, Watkinson added.

Watkinson is now looking for more community-minded individuals to join his group.

It’s not often the fire department puts on a recruitment drive like the one that is currently underway. But because of operational changes and retirements, there are close to 20 positions available.

“We’ve never had vacancies like this before,” said Watkinson, who is looking for individuals who live in the community and have some daytime availability.

The number of calls and when they occur varies, he explained, noting firefighters respond to people in medical distress, motor vehicle crashes, and, of course, fires.

Firefighters work on a rotation and can be called upon five times a day or just once a week.

There are some basic requirements applicants must meet, such as being at least 19 years old, have a valid B.C. driver’s licence, and be in good physical condition.

It’s strenuous work, said the fire chief, adding there are weekly training sessions, work around the hall, and volunteer commitments in the community.

Symons expects there will be fierce competition. When he joined, more than 100 others were aspiring for the same thing.

“We want team players,” said Symons.

But most of all, Watkinson said, the fire department is looking for individuals with “characteristics” to represent the group.

“We can train people on their ability, but we can’t train character.”

Anyone interested in applying for a position can pick up an application form at Fire Station 1, 33330 Seventh Ave., or at mission.ca. Applications must be in by April 22, 2015. For more information, call Mission Fire/Rescue Service at 6004-820-3794.

 

Just Posted

Police investigate sexual assault of teen girl in Abbotsford

Incident occurred Wednesday night along Oriole Crescent

Location eyed for possible collector well

New estimate puts price tag of new water source at $81 million

Bad behaviour to lead to expulsion at Abbotsford council

New rules lay out how a member can be booted from a meeting

More extreme weather beds needed in Mission

Council allocates another $5,000 to help keep people safe, warm and dry

Input sought for road works for Maple Ridge

Consultation on Haney Bypass upgrades

B.C. cougar kitten rescued after mother struck by vehicle

Conservation Officers find home for young kitten found dehydrated and frostbitten near Williams Lake

Rock slide closes Hwy. 1 south of Ashcroft until Friday afternoon

A rock slide Thursday afternoon near Spences Bridge closed the highway in both directions

WestJet appeals lost bid to scrap harassment lawsuit

Airline argues judge was wrong to have dismissed the company’s application to strike the legal action

Can U.S. border guards search your phone? Yes, and here’s how

Secretary of homeland security explains a new policy that let’s border guards check phones

‘Beautiful writer’ Nancy Richler dies of cancer in Vancouver hospital

Montreal-born author spent most of her adult life in B.C. as a fiction writer and novelist

B.C. commuters vote to rename bus service to ‘Jeff’

The company asked and the people of Facebook answered

Students frustrated by UBCO response to harassment allegations

Students on the Kelowna campus were unaware of resources and worried about lack of communication

Sexsmith set to suit up for Giants

Vancouver signs ninth overall pick in 2017 WHL bantam draft

Women’s March Canada Fraser Valley slated for Saturday morning

It’s a march for women’s rights and social justice for the most marginalized

Most Read