Florenceville-Bristol Fire Department hosts open house

by | Nov 17, 2023

Community event during Fire Prevention Week used as recruitment tool

Florenceville-Bristol Fire Department members held an open house on Oct. 7, opening their doors to the public to show off equipment, demonstrate skills, and hopefully entice some people to join their ranks.

“We’ve always wanted to do this, and we thought it would be good to partner education and awareness with recruitment,” explained Fire Chief Andrew Cougle.

Firefighters took young and old for rides in a fire truck and did low-angle slope rescue demonstrations for those who stopped in.

Many of the department’s members were on hand for the open house, with RCMP officers and paramedics with Ambulance NB also participating.

Recruitment is an ongoing issue with the volunteer fire service, but this department, which has a firefighter roster of 24, has gotten lucky these last few years with some new recruits joining their ranks. On this day, the department staffed a recruitment table that offered written materials and a chance for people to talk to members about joining the department.

Josh Seelye has been a member for four years after serving in Blacks Harbour before moving to the region.

“It’s always interesting,” Seelye told the River Valley Sun. “There’s an adrenaline rush that you get when the pager goes off, but there’s also a lot of satisfaction with helping people when you need them most.”

Michael Howarth is a 21-year-old who lives in the District of Carleton North. He joined the department about eight months ago and loves his work.

“I was interested in helping the community, but I have always loved this kind of thing. I feel like I fit in here. My pastor is a Captain here, and that’s how I learned about the opportunity.”

Howarth’s brother, Kieran, is 18 and is joining the department. The recent high school graduate wants to become an RCMP officer eventually and thinks the fire service will help him achieve that goal.

“It’s a perfect stepping stone to law enforcement because it’s all helping people,” he said.

The informal meet and greet at the open house saw dozens of people stop in, and many children got a ride in a fire truck, with the excitement of lights and sirens.

“It was a good turnout,” said Chief Cougle. “We really just wanted to celebrate our community and have a chance to show people what we’re about. I think we achieved that.”

Firefighter Charles Walker set up a low-angle slope rescue for Jeneva Anderson, who
learned how to pull mom Jill and sister Charlotte in a sled. (Theresa Blackburn photo)

Michael Howarth, left, began volunteering with the fire department eight months ago. His
brother, Kieran, far right, is one of the department’s newest recruits. Their 12-year-old
brother, Jonty, centre, hasn’t made up his mind on whether he’ll join his siblings when
he’s old enough. (Theresa Blackburn photo)

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