Skills that could save their lives: B.C. firefights train in Kelowna

Master instructors from around North America had firefighters performing various scenarios Tuesday

Firefighters from across Western Canada converged in Kelowna this week for training aimed at saving their lives.

Geoff Boisseau, Toronto-based master instructor for the Fire Ground Survival Instructor training program, had small crews of firefighters learn how to disentangle themselves from wires, mimicking the circumstances faced in burning office buildings. He asked them to descend ladders in new ways and to break through a wall and get themselves through a hole that was no more than 16 inches wide.

Each training station was based on a scenario where a firefighter had died in the line of duty, said Boisseau.

“We’re trying to ensure it doesn’t happen again,” he said.

The challenge facing today’s firefighters is that their work is ever-evolving, given changing variables.

New construction techniques and materials have altered the way fires build, Boisseau said, explaining that 29 years ago when he became a firefighter it, on average, took a room 19 minutes to flash over — the term used for everything in the room to ignite. Today, it’s about three and a half minutes.

Boisseau said if he brought his original training into a fire he wouldn’t survive.

“That’s the challenge — we are not fighting the same fires our predecessors did. We are learning from what they learned but we’re having to learn at a faster pace,” said

Kelowna Fire Department chief Travis Whiting said “the materials we use, the way we build… they all contribute to how things burn.”

The local fire department, like other cities, has a prevention branch that liaises with developers to help fire crews know what they’re facing if a fire ever occurs.

That said, learning how to extricate oneself in a dangerous situation is important.

“Even in Kelowna in the last couple of months we have had a couple incidents where firefighters had been injured in fires and these rescue techniques are critical to make sure that we are all responding in the same way consistently,” he said.

The worst injury was at the Truswell fire, last year.

RELATED: The aftermath and overhaul of the Truswell condo fire

Close to 40 firefighters fought the massive condo blaze on Truswell Road and at the time Deputy Fire Chief Lou Wilde said four firefighters were trapped on a balcony. Before being rescued one suffered burns to his hands.

Today he’s still healing, and Whiting said he may return in the months to come.

“They were in a tough situation and our crews operated a level of professionalism that was incredible to watch and they were able to extricate those members safely,” he said.

“What happened on Truswell that day our crews went above and beyond to support each other to make sure they get out safely but these skills are the type of skills that were used that day and are an advancement on the skills that we had there.”

The IAFF, The International Association of Fire Chiefs and The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) have developed this program based on investigations and lessons learned from Firefighter Fatality investigations conducted by NIOSH. Fire departments attending include Kelowna, Kamloops, Penticton, Vernon, West Kelowna, Prince George, Trail, Fernie Whitehorse, Nelson and Swift Current.

To report a typo, email:
edit@kelownacapnews.com
.



edit@kelownacapnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

 

Just Posted

Skeena salmon and our new reality

North Pacific is not the place it used to be and neighbours need to work together says SkeenaWild.

22nd year of smoke and noise

Bulkley Valley Drag Racing Assoc categories: Super Pro, Pro, Bike Sled, Diesel, and Junior Dragster.

BV medals at BCs

Two Smithers Secondary School 2018 graduates medaled at the B.C. Athletis Championship in Coquitlam.

One wheeled skateboard ready for camps

Next Smithers skateboard camp is Aug. 7-9.

Lake Babine Nation councillor resigns before being sworn in

Paul Joseph steps down before being sworn in

BC Games: Day 2 comes to an end

Hundreds of medals have been handed out at the 2018 BC Summer Games in the Cowichan Valley

B.C. mining company, involved in 2014 spill, ordered to pay lost wages

Mount Polley Mining Company must pay wages to 26 employees who were laid off without proper notice

Two significant wildfires burning in southeastern B.C.

More than 20 fires were burning in the Southeast Fire Centre as of Saturday afternoon

Volunteers provide the glue that keeps BC Games moving

The 2018 Cowichan Summer Games had more than 2,300 volunteers on hand across Vancouver Island

No Name brand chicken nuggets recalled due to possible salmonella

Canadian Food Inspection Agency says multiple illnesses reported in B.C., Alberta and Ontario

Lodeiro scores twice to help Sounders beat Whitecaps 2-0

Seattle’s Nicolas Lodeiro opened the scoring in the fifth minute when he converted a penalty kick

Race walker breaks 18-year-old BC Games record

Zone 6 athlete Olivia Lundman crossed finish line with ease, to loud cheers in Cowichan

PHOTO GALLERY: BC Games Day 2

A brief look at action from the 2018 BC Summer Games in the Cowichan Valley

BC Wildfire update on 14 major Okanagan blazes

Watch the media briefing on the current fire situation in the Okanagan.

Most Read