Four freshly minted Saanich firefighters and the new Emergency Program coordinator made their debut during a Nov. 6 declaration of duty ceremony at the district’s Station #1.
The Saanich Fire Department welcomed incoming firefighters Drew Coleman, Allistair Davy-Saxl, Jaskarn Johal and Paul Lance – who received their uniforms and badges during the ceremony while their families looked on from a safe distance – and Capt. Erin Stockhill as the new coordinator of Saanich’s Emergency Program.
The best part the Fire Chiefs job is the swearing in of new members. Very please to officially welcome these 5 new members to the @SaanichFire family. Wishing them the very best for happy and healthy careers serving @saanich residents. pic.twitter.com/5Ano75ZPXi— Mike Burgess 🇨🇦 (@Mike_Burgess_) November 6, 2020
Deputy Chief Dan Wood noted the ceremony was smaller than usual due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but stories were still shared and rites of passage completed.
The new firefighters is each assigned to one of the department’s four platoons and their captains will connect them with a mentor to guide them through department duties and real-time protocol starting Nov. 9. Wood expects that the group will remain close despite being on different platoons because classes sworn in together are typically tight-knit.
Before applying to a department, hopeful firefighters complete the 10-week National Fire Protection Association training along with various other fire service courses and emergency response certifications, said Wood, a firefighter with more than 35 years of experience.
He said when hiring new recruits, the Saanich Fire Department looks for candidates who have unique skills and experiences on their resumes – whether that’s a university degree, volunteer hours or teaching experience.
The Saanich Fire Department’s next round of recruitment begins in December with new firefighters hired sometime in January. Wood plans to conduct outreach with the Songhees Nation, Vikes Athletics and the military to encourage people from different backgrounds to apply for “the best job in the world.”