GRAVENHURST, ON – Anyone in Muskoka looking to make a big difference in their community has the chance as Gravenhurst needs volunteer firefighters.

The town’s Fire Chief, Larry Brassard, said he is looking to fill eight spots in his department. He is aiming to have a team of about 60 total.

Brassard said the job comes with a lot of responsibility and is also incredibly important, especially in rural areas.  Volunteer firefighters are often the first responders in many northern communities that take ambulances longer to reach.

According to Brassard, the position needs to be taken seriously.

“Volunteer firefighters don’t work shifts,” Brassard said. “They are actually on duty 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. That doesn’t mean they are sequestered only to firefighting. Of course, they still go shopping out of town.  Many of them work and can’t go to a fire call. We just ask they respond when they’re available.”

The chief added that it isn’t only fires they get called to. He said they will respond to accidents, medical emergencies and most general hazards.

Brassard added it doesn’t matter what walk of life a volunteer is from, and he actually prefers having as diverse a group he can get. The only stipulation is a volunteer has to be at least 18-years-old and in good physical shape.

“Our firefighters are wearing upwards of 50 pounds of equipment when they go to a fire, so being in good physical condition is important to keep their physical and mental health,” Brassard said. “People can serve as long as they want as long as they are healthy.”

On the flip side, Brassard wanted to educate the community about what a flashing green light in a civilian vehicle means.

The fire chief said after a year of being on the team, a volunteer firefighter can apply to have a green flashing light put in their vehicle. The light is meant to warn other motorists that they are on their way to an emergency and should yield to them.

“I think the further north from the GTA you get the more people become attuned to it,” Brassard said. “There are still a lot of people who travel in our community who don’t know what the green light means.”

Brassard said anyone interested in becoming a volunteer firefighter can apply on the town’s website or visit any of the stations in Gravenhurst to apply in person.