TIZZARD’S HARBOUR, NL – With a background in emergency response, Steve Burt hopes to bring his experience and expertise to the Tizzard’s Harbour Volunteer Fire Department.
Burt was born in Tizzard’s Harbour but left for employment when he was a teenager. He returned home over a year ago and now has a prominent role with the town’s firefighters.
Burt has had an extensive career as an emergency response worker in the oil and gas sector, as well as working as a volunteer fire chief in Halifax.
He is now using these years of service to develop an in-house training program with the 14 firefighters in Tizzard’s Harbour.
“One thing volunteer departments often struggle with is training; it’s an issue everywhere,” Burt said. “Our goal is to become more than a defensive fire department.”
As part of these efforts, Burt and other members are studying current modules, procedures and bylaws. As well, Burt is taking an in-depth look at the properties and boundaries of the Tizzard’s Harbour area to make the training specific to the community’s concerns and issues.
“When you’re in an environment with specific risks, the department should have a protocol to deal with that risk,” he said. “Every person that puts themselves into the line of fire, they need to be trained for it.”
With the prominence of fishing in the community, how to deal with a fire on a long-liner is one area where Burt is hoping to offer training.
Burt is currently planning to go through Newfoundland and Labrador’s certification programs later this year to ensure his training is up to date and in line with standards for the province’s many volunteer fire departments.
Discussions with other fire departments in the New World Island and Twillingate area have also raised the issue of making certain equipment to tackle fires and emergencies more accessible and readily available.
“We’re looking at what’s available and ways we can potentially share resources,” said Burt. “Unless we ask these questions, we’re never going to get any traction on this issue.”
A dart tournament fundraiser for the department was recently held and a roast beef dinner fundraiser in planned for April 18. With this approach to step-up training and purchase new equipment, Burt says funds from these events will come in handy to improving the skills and potential of the Tizzard’s Harbour firefighters.
Located on a tight, winding road to an ocean-side community of roughly 50 people, the limitations on resources and isolation found in Tizzard’s Harbour have not been a barrier for Burt. His goal to make the volunteer fire department as experienced and well-equipped as any other remains firm and attainable.
“Our department is well rounded and everyone comes in with their valuable background and skillset,” said Burt. “I think if people can see that the fire department is a worthwhile effort where they will get all appropriate training we can encourage a few more to volunteer.”