From all backgrounds and walks of life, the men and women of the Bracebridge Fire Department are united in one common cause: the betterment of their community.
For Jesse Lockie, the call came early, and from a young age he knew he wanted to be a member of the fire department. By the age of 18 he had already graduated from the Pre-Service Education and Firefighter Training Program at Durham College in his hometown of Oshawa.
“It can be extremely challenging to find a career firefighter position – especially straight out of school,” said Lockie, who is now the Training Officer with the Bracebridge Fire Department. “I was looking for somewhere I could get on the volunteer department and I literally pointed at a spot on the map. It turned out to be Bracebridge and I was very fortunate that it was.”
Lockie said he could tell from the start that the Department was a tight-knit group, but they were very welcoming. Lockie said his educational background served him well during training, expecially during his first few years as a volunteer. In fact, he was even able to assist his fellow fledgling firefighters because of his extensive training.
Lockie spent seven years as a volunteer with the department before moving on to his current full-time role two years ago. Of course, during his off hours, he still volunteers alongside his fellow firefighters.
Despite not knowing a single person in Bracebridge when he moved here, Lockie says he has now made some of the strongest bonds in his life with other members of the department.
“There’s an incredible sense of camaraderie and teamwork,” he says. “The social aspects of being in the Department are really one of the big reasons people enjoy it. It used to be the majority of the Department were long-time residents but now there are a lot more who have relocated here from somewhere else.”
The Department is currently seeking new recruits with an application deadline of Wednesday May 31, although they accept applications throughout the year.
Lockie says it’s important to understand the commitment that comes with becoming a member of the Bracebridge Fire Department.
Firefighters with the Town of Bracebridge are responsible for carrying a pager at all times to respond to calls at all hours of the day and attending three evening training sessions per month. Firefighters are encouraged to take an active role in public safety education initiatives and community engagement.
While members of the department are paid for their time, Lockie says no one there is in it for the money.
“There are few other volunteer jobs where a pager goes off at 3 am and you’re out the door helping someone,” he says.
The department is compromised of team members with varying skills and backgrounds including mechanics, electricians, contractors and so much more. Lockie says that unique blend of skill sets can be a huge asset when it comes to problem-solving.
“Working with this group sometimes you might have differences of opinion but once you get on the scene everyone pulls together.”
Lockie says the Bracebridge Department responds to some 300 calls per year which can include everything from water rescues to car accidents and wildfires.
“You don’t always hear the results of what happens at the calls you respond to but sometimes you do and it’s a really great feeling to hear about a positive outcome,” he says. “About a year ago there was a fire in town and I was able to pull a patient out of a burning building with the help of a firefighter I helped train through the recruitment process. Fortunately, the patient survived. It was incredible to be able to have that impact on
For those who submit their application before May 31, the first information session will be held June 1 at the Fire Station. Lockie encourages those who apply to bring their partners as well.
“It’s important that everyone understands the commitment this involves. It can be hard on a family if someone has to leave in the middle of the night or in the middle of a family function,” says Lockie, who says he has a very understanding partner and a four-year-old daughter that already wants to be a firefighter like her dad. “It’s about getting the chance to help people and to make a good name for yourself and your department.”
You can find out more and apply here.
Don’t miss out on Doppler!
Sign up here to receive our email digest with links to our most recent stories.
Local news in your inbox three times per week!