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Tag: Volunteer Firefighters

Matthew Peterson, smiling man with short dark hair in emergency services uniform.

It takes a special person to be a volunteer firefighter

Raised in Crowsnest Pass, and having spent time away from the area as a young adult, Lt. Matthew Peterson has returned to make Pincher Creek his latest home base.

A former newspaper reporter and editor in British Columbia., the volunteer officer switched careers about 10 years ago to try his hand at mining near where he grew up.

“I actually started my emergency services training through the mine with the mine rescue program,” Matthew says. “I really liked the training. I really liked the things we were doing, so I decided to join the local fire department in Crowsnest Pass.”

When the family decided to move to Pincher Creek, Matthew approached fire Chief Pat Neumann to ask if he could become a lieutenant, a rank he had in Crowsnest Pass.

“So, I came over here and worked my way up, got to know everybody in the area and the people,” he says. “It’s been a good fit.”

Matthew admits it takes a special kind of person to be, not only a firefighter, but a volunteer firefighter.

“It’s a huge sacrifice that all the members make, having our families and commitments, our day jobs … to be able to put those things aside,” he says. “At times, we have to leave the family dinner, leave the family outing.”

It’s a decision he’s glad he made years ago, but it does come with an added responsibility.

 

Pig roast at wedding venue — the Cowley Lions Campground Stockade near Pincher Creek in southwestern Alberta.

 

“You know, some of the guys might like to go out for a few beers after work, but you have to make a conscious choice, where that’s not an option, where I want to be on call for my community if they need me.”

Matthew’s favourite part about the role is the training that’s provided.

 “A lot of really cool things you get to learn, a lot of really good stuff,” he says. “Just being able to use those skills when you go out on calls, it’s huge … and it’s needed.”

And, what kid wouldn’t want to grow up driving a real fire truck?

Unlike some volunteer opportunities where there might be requirements going in, all the training is provided by the department at no cost to the firefighter. But having transferable skills certainly doesn’t hurt.

“In my case, I had my industrial first aid ticket and, of course, my mine rescue training,” Matthew says.

Is being a volunteer firefighter something he’d recommend to a friend or someone in the community? Absolutely!

“I mean, you see those big TV shows like Chicago Fire and such, but in reality it’s us. It’s the people next door, it’s your auto mechanic, it’s your coal miner, that are going to be coming to help you at the end of the day.”

Thank you, Matthew, and to all our firefighters for being there!

 

 

Aerial view of the Cowley Lions Campground on the Castle River in southwestern Alberta

 

Firefighters Jordan Bley and Meagan Muff stand with a Crowsnest Pass Fire Rescue truck.

Firefighters bring unique skills to the table

One of the most interesting things about a volunteer fire department is finding out that almost everyone has a different background and job outside of the fire hall.

Take firefighter Jordan Bley — he’s a field maintenance supervisor at Teck Resources. Lt. Meagan Muff, meanwhile, is a paramedic in the Pass.

“My dad used to do this. I lived on Vancouver Island. So, I spent a lot of time in the fire hall growing up,” says Jordan. “He put a lot of time into it so I wanted to try it myself and give back to the community, as well.”

Like any job, and this could certainly be considered as one, even as a paid on-call volunteer, there’s a lot of learning. His superiors are noticing how fast he’s catching on.

“I guess, my leadership at Fording River is helping me in that,” Jordan concludes, when asked if there’s something he feels he brings to the role from outside of the hall.

A paramedic by day, or by night, depending on the shift, Meagan has always been close to the Rockies.

“I went to high school here in the Crowsnest Pass. I grew up as a child in Elkford but my family moved here when I was 13,” she says.

“I really love the mountains. My dad bought into a business here and we’ve never looked back.”

 

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While Jordan was exposed to the fire hall at an early age, it wasn’t on Meagan’s radar until around 2007.

“It’s a funny story,” she says. “I didn’t even think about joining the fire department. I’m a paramedic [since 2006] and they had approached me and said my skills would be valuable on both sides. So, I gave it some thought, did the big application process and it’s been great. I’ve really loved it.”

As an officer, Meagan is always learning new things. “They offer quite a bit of training in the department. Every year, I try and take a course.” 

That, she says, can be anything from classes on incident command to structural and wildland firefighting. 

By being not only a fire department but a fire rescue as well, the call-outs can change from day to day.

“We do a lot of medical aids, car accidents and fires, obviously,” adds Jordan. They may also help with certain search and rescues.

With this being Fire Prevention Week, most fire halls will open their doors to the public and crews will visit area schools, highlighting the importance of fire safety. It’s also a chance for departments, like Crowsnest, to show the importance and need to have a strong volunteer component.

“I think everybody has a unique skill set to bring to the fire department. I always like to think no person is an island, we all work as a team,” Meagan contends.

“What Jordan brings, I definitely don’t have. I bring a strong medical background. Not everyone has those skills, so everyone has something [different] to contribute.”

To find out more about becoming part of the team, contact the municipality’s protective services department, during office hours, at 403-562-8600 and press 1 to reach fire rescue.

 

 

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