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

Blooms abound at BC/Yukon Peony Show

The show was held last weekend in Castlegar, home to the 2019 National Peony Show.

RCMP identify Beasley body, foul play suspected

The remains of Lemar Halimi were discovered in May

SLIDESHOW: Castlegar grad celebrations

Stanley Humphries Secondary School said congratulations to the Class of 2018.

Unregulated private land logging continues near Nelson at Cottonwood Lake

Sunshine Logging of Kaslo is cutting on private land in the area of Giveout Creek Road

LETTERS: Castlegar Complex expansion

One in favour, one against expansion plans.

SLIDESHOW: Castlegar grad celebrations

Stanley Humphries Secondary School said congratulations to the Class of 2018.

Port of Prince Rupert names Shaun Stevenson as new CEO

Stevenson has worked for the port for 21 years as vice president of trade development

Senate officially passes Canada’s marijuana legalization bill

Bill C-45 now moves to royal assent, which is the final step in the legislative process

Fake attempted abduction not funny to B.C. neighbourhood residents

Two teenage boys won’t face criminal charges after scaring girl

Mosquitoes out in full force already? Blame the weather

But a B.C. mosquito expert says the heat wave will help keep the pests at bay

Man pleads not guilty in 1987 slayings of B.C. couple

William Talbott of SeaTac was arraigned Tuesday in Snohomish County Superior Court

New GOP plan: Hold kids longer at border – but with parents

Move would ease rules that limit how much time minors can be held with their parents

Without a big data strategy, Canadians at risk of being ‘data cows’

Presentation said artificial intelligence could give Facebook and Amazon even more power

Five B.C. families stuck in Japan as Canada refuses visas for adopted babies

Lawyer points to change in American policy around adoptions from Japan

Most Read