Training underway for Lethbridge Fire and Emergency Services' new recruits

Some of the newest recruits for the Lethbridge Fire Department will fit into a much-needed role in the city.

It's been nearly three weeks since Lethbridge Fire Department's newest recruits started their training.

The LFD is hoping this fresh batch of hopeful firefighters will help fill an urgent need in the department.

"Of late, we've had quite a few recruit classes in, just trying to fill retirements and people leaving," said fire training officer Mark Matheson.

"We also have a new station opening up this summer, so we have a great need of staff."

The new station, Fire Station No. 5, is set to open in late June on the west side and they're hoping a good portion of the recently trained recruits will help staff it.

As part of their training, they were running bailout drills at the training centre on Wednesday morning.

"If they're inside of an upper story room that's going to flash over or it's going to turn into a big ball of fire," Matheson explained. "They have to learn how to get out quick and safely so they're practicing that by way of going headfirst out the window down a ladder."

It's part of their fire-ground survivability training and they ran through the drill for nearly an hour.

The recruits were eager to learn, but hope they won't have to use this training in the field.

"It's pretty extensive, the training that we're doing today," said Joey Eggins, one of the recruits. "That's training that you do on the training grounds and hope you never have to use that training in-person because this is obviously a last ditch effort that you're bailing out the window like we're doing here today."

The new group is smaller than most with only nine recruits as they're trying to limit group sizes due to COVID-19.

The group is also in a bubble to stop the spread of transmission and wear masks and face coverings whenever possible.

Because of the bubble, the recruits say it didn't take long for them to start working as a close-knit unit.

"Within the first week, we were all joking around and got pretty close. We all fit in great, we're all having a great time," said Tamara Labas, one of two female recruits.

"Spending all day, every day together, you're kind of forced to get close but it's a lot of fun and everyone's really easy going and is quite easy to get along with," Kelsea Foster, the other female recruit, told CTV News.

"We already are developing relationships with each other and good bonds and I'd say we're already a family mentality," said Eggins. "We all look out for each other and help each other when somebody's in need of help."

Even though they're only three weeks in to their three-month training regimen, this group of recruits is quickly showing higher ups that they have what it takes to be part of the Lethbridge Fire Department.

If you, or someone you know, would like to sign up to become a recruit for the LFD, you can visit the City of Lethbridge's website.