Members from the Huckleberry mine were battling flames at the Smithers Regional Fire Training Center as they prepare for the 2012 North Central and South Zone Mine Rescue and First Aid Competition in Revelstoke June 9.
The event is an annual competition that puts mine rescue training to the test as mines from all over the province compete for the top prize.
The Huckleberry mine is no stranger to the event and has been sending a team for several years.
Although they haven’t won the competition as of yet, they’ve consistently finished in the top five and this year with a veteran team heading down, their hopes are high.
“Huckleberry has always been in the top five in the mine rescue competition which is quite an accomplishment when you consider they go up against Tech Cominco, companies that have thousands of employees and we’re only 230 people,” said Dwayne Allen, health and safety coordinator for Huckleberry mine.
“So with a veteran team we’re very hopeful this year that we walk away with the provincial mine rescue trophy.”
Last season the team finished third, one of the best finishes so far which prompted them to come to Smithers for a two day training exercise and to donate some funds to the Smithers Volunteer Fire Department.
“We’ve made several donations and this year we’re making one of our larger donations of $9,000 to replace some of the older rail cars they have out here because this facility is utilized quite often,” Allen said.
“It’s all about safety at the mine, the more training we can get for our mine rescue personnel the better off we are at the mine site.”
Huckelberry mine was one of the first organizations to help fund the regional fire training center that not only allows Smithers firefighters to stay in shape but also a slue of other organizations from Prince Rupert to Burns Lake and beyond that use the facility when needed.
“We’ve had multiple opportunities with the mining industry to make our regional training center available for them to carry on their duties when they’re in the mines getting into position to rescue their people should they get into trouble,” said Keith Stecko, Fire Chef for the Town of Smithers.
“I’m quite ecstatic to be here today and receive this check for $9,000 for further support of our regional training center.”
The team conducted a number of exercises while training in Smithers. Using fire-extinguishers, breathing apprentices to enter a smoke filled building and learning how to control and contain fires was all part of the first leg of training.
From here they will continue training for the next three weeks on first aid as well as high ropes and written exercises that will make up the competition parameters.
All being veterans the one advantage they have is being comfortable and knowing what to expect come the day of competition.
But according to team captain, Clifford Huwen it’s all about being prepared for that split second reaction that will bring them a championship.
“For us we just affirm to each other that we know what we’re doing, we’re trained for this and if we just go out there and do what we’re trained to do we should be successful.”