The O’Leary Fire Department is looking to change some wording in their bylaws in order to allow permanent residents living in the fire district to join the department.
Councillor Darrel Wood brought up the subject on behalf of the fire department during his report to council at their monthly meeting on Sept 8.
Some of the criteria in the current bylaw for a new recruit states they have to be a Canadian citizen, 19 years old, have good standing in the community and have no criminal record.
The fire department wants to add to the bylaw that a new recruit can be either a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident.
Coun. Wood said there is someone in the community interested in joining the department who is not a Canadian citizen, but a permanent resident.
“He’s a very good fit for the department, he’s got all kinds of first aid training, fire rescue and he’s very interested in joining and they would like to get him on as soon as possible and want to change that bylaw ASAP,” he explained.
Bev Shaw, the town’s CAO, said she had suggested to Coun. Wood that the fire department first check with the Provincial Fire Marshals Office and the Workers Compensation Board as well as with the department’s insurance provider.
Coun. Wood said the department has checked with the fire marshals office, who has given the OK, and the individual is covered under Workers Comp through his place of employment.
“The insurance part, I think he’s OK as well,” he said.
Councillor Valene Gallant, who is a member of the fire department, said the person has lived in the area for 20 years.
“The only difference is between a Canadian citizen and a permanent resident is he can’t vote and he can’t run for office, but can be covered under Workers Comp and insurance,” she said.
Ms Gallant said the department currently has between 24-25 members with a capacity to have 28 firefighters.
Ms Shaw said the next step for the fire department will be to draft the changes to the bylaw and send it to council for approval.
According to the report they submitted to council, the O’Leary fire department received 27 calls over the summer.
Motor vehicle collisions was the most responded to calls the department received with 10 and they saw an increase in utility pole fires over the summer, responding to five calls, which Chief Ron Phillips noted was due to wet and windy weather. The department attended two structure fires, one on an abandoned property and the second house received moderate damage in the living room area. They also responded to five alarms, two smells of smoke and one garbage fire.