Matthew St. John aims a hose at the inside of a car during the Firefighter for a Day event in South Dundas on Sat., Aug. 21. Morin Photo

SOUTH DUNDAS – Have you ever wondered if you could make it as a firefighter? Before you find out if you have what it takes, you might like to find out exactly what that means.

The South Dundas Fire Department, hoping to encourage residents to apply for a volunteer firefighter’s job in South Dundas, held a special all day “Firefighter for a Day” event at Matilda Hall on Sat., Aug. 21.

The weather was perfect for the event bringing hot and sunny and the kind of weather that would bake anyone rigged out with the typical fire fighter gear.

Despite the sweltering temperatures, there are about 20 people, men and women who were courageous enough to try to find out if they could survive the necessary training a firefighter has to endure and succeed at.

Director of Fire and Emergency Services, for South Dundas Cameron Morehouse explained that recruiting new firefighters is an ongoing process.

“We are trying to recruit firefighters for our municipality, we are short some,” he said.

Recruiting for small rural fire departments can be a challenge.

Morehouse said, “The first thing is to recruit but then you have to retain firefighters.”

Morehouse said Edward-Cardinal had been running this kind of recruitment program for several years and he thought it was worth trying in South Dundas.

“A year and a half ago we went over and talked to them and took their ideas and added some of our own but then Covid hit.”

Covid delayed everything but as soon as the province reached Stage 3 the fire department was ready to go with the recruitment event.

There are four workstations for potential firefighters to work on fire related activities.

The search and rescue component of the event was held inside Matilda Hall. There was a ladder station and a pumping area with hoses and auto extrication at the far end of the hall’s parking lot.

“We have been overwhelmed with the response. We thought we might get twelve people to come out. We had responses from Brockville, Cornwall and Morewood, Finch and Chesterville.”

Seven women and thirteen men signed up for the grueling day-long exercise.

Morehouse suggested that next year the municipality could host a Dundas ladies’ day. “It’s just an idea right now,” said Morehouse.

A Morrisburg couple was eager to try their hand at firefighting.

Matthew St. John and Dana Crooks have just bought a home in Morrisburg.

“Volunteer fire fighting is something I have always wanted to try out,” said St. John. “I thought this was the perfect opportunity when I saw it online.”

He said he was not sure about what to expect but he was enjoying the experience.

There were several women who came out for the firefighting experience.

“I wanted to try this out to see if I would like it,” said Crooks. “I enjoy physical work as well.”

For those who attended and liked what they experienced, the next step is the application process, and then if accepted, more training.