for The Clarion
The Kindersley Volunteer Fire Department has members who come from near and far.
Mitch Hope, who grew up in Kindersley, has been part of the team since 2003. “I joined when I was 16. There were a few hoops to jump through to do that; there’s stipulations on what you can and can’t do.”
It may seem uncommon for a 16-year-old to volunteer to be a firefighter, but at the time Mitch was already familiar with what the position involved because his father, Ron Hope, is a long-time volunteer firefighter.
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“My dad was a single father for me and my brother, so when he was volunteering, we were directly involved.” Mitch knew first hand that being on the fire department is a lifestyle.
“It was something I thought I would potentially do as a career, and was actually working towards that after high school.” However, Mitch changed his career plans as he realized a lot of fire departments won’t hire you unless you have a trade, so he says, “I got my electrical papers and kept volunteering.”
The choice to remain a volunteer firefighter worked out well for Mitch. “I realize as a volunteer I’m choosing to participate, whereas on a fire department it’s not a choice, but a way of living; you have to be there. There’s something more to it when you’re volunteering than when you’re doing it as a job.” he added. “Wherever I lived, I joined. Each time it’s a little bit different, but I absolutely love it! There’s a natural rush when that pager goes off and you get tunnel vision on the task you’re doing. It’s very rewarding being able to help someone.”
Mitch not only enjoys the work but is grateful there’s someone to do the job if he is ever in need.
Another member who is available to help in the time of need came to Canada from Moldova, a small country bordered by Romania and the Ukraine. Olga Bersotsky has been a member of the local detachment for four years.
Olga heard about an acquaintance who was going to practice and asked if she could try it. From that moment on, she was hooked. “When I entered the first time and smelled the smoke, I felt like I was at the right place at the right time.”
When asked why she joined, she said, “I love to be challenged to my limits. It takes a lot of energy. If it’s not physical energy, you can get tired mentally sometimes. You never know what you’re going to see and how it will affect you afterwards.”
The most challenging aspect of the job, according to Olga, is staying focused on the task at hand during really stressful situations. “But it’s important to do it right, because it’s not only my life, but my team mates who are at stake.”
When the call comes, a short description of what happened is given and an approximate location. “I am always prepared for a long call,” Olga said. “Even when you wake up at in the morning for a call, and have to go to work the next morning, never knowing when you’ll get another call, the feeling you get after you help someone in the worst moment covers everything. You feel tired but happy.” she concluded. “I really want to make a difference.”