Byron Skanderup wears two hats. As a controls technician with TransCanada he ensures the safe and efficient operations of the company’s compressor stations. When Skanderup isn’t tending to the safety of TransCanada’s compressor stations, he’s looking after the wellbeing of his community. As the captain of the Brooks Fire Department, he and his team respond to approximately 400 calls per year, ranging from house fires, to motor vehicle accidents, to chemical spills.
Skanderup and 31 of his fellow Brooks firefighters are just a few of Alberta’s firefighters, 80 percent of whom are volunteers.
“I became a volunteer firefighter ten years ago,” says Skanderup. “I guess I do it because I like helping people out and giving back to my community.”
But volunteers like Skanderup are becoming scarce and the need for volunteer firefighters continues to grow. That’s why the Alberta Fire Chiefs Association (AFCA) is launching Answer the Call 2015 – an Alberta-wide campaign that encourages Albertans to make firefighting a part of their daily lives.
“There is a need for firefighters and there will always be a need for firefighters,” says Bill Purdy, executive director of AFCA. “Most local fire halls are always looking to recruit new members and it’s a challeng. Answer the Call will hopefully help us move the needle in the right direction.”
Corporate donors such as TransCanada see tremendous value in the campaign and are the chief sponsor of the initiative.
“We’re committed to the safety and wellbeing of the communities near our operations,” explains Andrea Jalbert, vice-president, Community and Sustainability. “We’ve supported the Alberta Fire Chief’s Association for a number of years, but this year, we’re thrilled to expand our partnership to support the Answer the Call campaign. It’s important to recognize the role volunteer firefighters play in communities and to support the AFCA’s efforts recruit new volunteers.”
The need for volunteers isn’t limited to firefighters; volunteers are also needed for dispatch and administrative support. Fighting fires isn’t just for men either; many women now don a firefighter’s helmet.
“Many women have been part of the Brooks Fire Department,” says Skanderup. “They’ve always been a great asset to the team.”
Teamwork and camaraderie are hallmarks of volunteer firefighting.
“I’ve gotten to know the team pretty well,” says Skandrup. “I often attend their family functions. They are like a second family.”
As part of the campaign, fire halls across the province will be hosting recruitment and appreciation events between May 3 and 9. For more information, visit Answerthecall2015.ca or contact your local fire department.
Supporting the Answer the Call campaign is one of the many ways that TransCanada supports first responders. Learn more about TransCanada’s commitment to protecting communities and ensuring our assets are safe and reliable by visiting our CSR Report.