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Calgary Fire Department looking for more than a few good people to meet demand

Rapid population growth is fueling demand for additional Calgary firefighters in record numbers.

Captain Lloyd Wyer says the Calgary Fire Department plans to add 320 recruits, 120 each year, over the next three years.

“We are doing the most hiring we have ever done in the Calgary Fire Department.  It’s an amazing time, an amazing opportunity.”

Hoping he meets the standard is 27-year-old Robert Safiullin.  He says he is so thankful Canada welcomed him and his wife four months ago that he wants to dedicate himself to helping others in his adopted home.

“I’m from Russia, my wife is from Ukraine. We came here, you know why, you know the reason. And once again I am so thankful to Canadian people who made this opportunity possible for us.” explained Safiullin.

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“I really want to help people, I really want to be useful for this society so that’s why I decided to choose this profession.”

Wyer says having a desire to serve others is a key ingredient in the make-up of a successful recruit.

“I think it’s extremely important.  I became a firefighter for the same reasons.  I can train most people to be a firefighter but I cannot train someone to have empathy and compassion.  That’s very important when the job is all about helping other people on the worst day of their lives.”

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The CFD currently employs about 1,400 firefighters said Public Information Officer Carol Henke but the workforce needs to expand with three new fire stations scheduled to open in the next two years and a mandatory retirement age of 60 that will see a large number of firefighters leaving in the coming years.

The Calgary Fire Department’s hiring booth was busy throughout day at the City of Calgary’s job fair held Wednesday at the BMO Centre.

“The more we can get the word out that we are looking for great candidates as future firefighters for the Calgary Fire Department, the better-quality candidates we are going to have down the line.”

Captain Wyer says other parts of Alberta are facing similar issues but the pool of potential applicants in Calgary is strong and the CFD is focusing its effort on ensuring new Calgarians are aware of opportunities.

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“We are always competing with other fire departments, but Calgary has a very good reputation. We don’t really struggle to find applicants but at the same time we want to expand the normal profile of the fire department.  We want to reach out to some communities that have not thought about firefighting as a career.”

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