A Robson firefighter was one of the four BC firefighters to successfully complete survival training at a training camp earlier this year.
Steve Hoodicoff, who has been with the Robson Volunteer Fire Department for about 10.5 years, successfully completed a mayday course put on by Canwest Fire Services in Osoyoos this past April. Out of 95 firefighters who ran the maze, only four, including Hoodicoff, successfully completed it.
The course had firefighters make their way through an obstacle course in teams of two— the Firefighter’s Ghost survival maze — designed by Ed Brouwer, chief instructor for Canwest Fire Services. The maze tests whether or not a firefighter knows when to call a mayday and have other firefighters provide assistance.
“A mayday course is designed for firefighters that are in a building and they get trapped or they are in trouble of any sort. So say if we go into this building here and we’re doing a building search and it’s smokey, it’s dark, we get lost because we don’t know where we are, we do what’s called a mayday,” explained Hoodicoff. “So we call ‘Mayday, mayday, mayday’ on the radio, announcing that we are in trouble — we’re either injured, we’re out of air, we’re just disoriented or the conditions have changed inside the building. What this course was designed to do is test your skills for when you get into trouble and how you actually handle yourself in a mayday.”
In the Firefighter’s Ghost maze firefighters encounter a number of problems: the hose they’re following out of the building suddenly disappears underneath debris, their air runs out, they get snagged and can’t move, and they fall through the floor. Successfully completing the training does not necessarily mean making it all the way through the maze; it means recognizing when to call a mayday and get help.
In a press release sent out by the Regional District of Central Kootenay, Brouwer said that the Robson Volunteer Fire Departmen’t training program was reflected by Hoodicoff’s performance.
“This is a very positive reflection on the departments’ commitment to firefighter safety,” said Brouwer.
Hoodicoff attributes his success to the training he’s received through his department.
“There’s a level of firefighting called NFPA 1001 Level 1, Level 2 and we’ve trained up to that same standard, and that NFPA 1001 Level 1, Level 2 is the same type of training that if a firefighter wanted to be in a career fire department in a big city like Vancouver, they train to that, and we do as well,” said Hoodicoff.
The department trains every Tuesday, learning different chapters of the ESA Manual, a text book for firefighters. They also practice safety drills where they deal with the same kind of scenarios Hoodicoff encountered in the survival maze.