SALMON RIVER – Jeff Goodwin can’t help but smile when he sees the excitement on his colleague’s faces.
Goodwin, captain of training with the Salmon River and District Volunteer Fire Brigade, watches as his fellow firefighters gear up and head toward a new fire training structure at the back of their property.
“It was an idea I had when I was first elected a year ago,” said Goodwin about the structure that allows for endless firefighting scenarios. “I wanted to bring something in for the firefighters that had a more realistic fire training scenario but being as safe as possible.”
That’s where the welded, two-storey structure comes into play.
“Compared to past years, we would set piles of skids on fire and the first team on scene would get all the glory, while the last team on scene got the ashes. That was very unfair and this is a great way for our new members to begin training and our existing members to hone their skills,” Goodwin said. “The last team in will get the same experience as the first team in.”
Firefighter Stefan Deuville said the structure would be a huge benefit to the department.
“It’s excellent as far as the smoke – it’s very thick and realistic,” said Deuville, 24, who joined five years ago. “It will be beneficial in showing our new members what they can expect when they encounter smoke.”
Deuville said a lot of television shows depicting firefighters, such as Chicago Fire, doesn’t depict the reality when members respond to fire calls.
“A lot of those fires are propane fires and the space is all open, but in real life, you don’t necessarily see open spaces,” he said. “This will better prepare us for what to expect. The structure is definitely of the extreme of what we could expect, but it’s good to give us a taste of what it’s like.”
Goodwin said the structure allows the firefighters to train in a controlled environment.
“Safety is our main priority,” he said, adding there are two safety lines attached during training for firefighters’ protection, and there are sprinkler systems on both levels.
“And our senior firefighters are going in with our newer members in case something happens,” he added.
The captain said the firefighters train once a week, but he expected they’d now be spending more time at the site.
“They’ll probably train every chance they get. I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re here every weekend. At the mere mention of having the opportunity to train with it, they got excited. They love it.”
The structure has a stove-controlled chamber, allowing firefighters to control the level of heat and smoke for the varying scenarios.
It allows them to combat flue fires, use roof ventilation, window ventilation and preform rescues, forcible entries and above and below grade attacks.
“You’re limited only by your imagination,” said Goodwin.
Over the past year, Goodwin was able to bring the plan to fruition after a chance encounter with local welder Wayne Smith.
“Wayne saw my (fire department) patch and we got to talking. That’s where we started.”
Together the men put together some mock-ups that Goodwin took to the membership and a planning crew.
“I think today our heroes are our firefighters and our police officers,” said Smith, who spent 700 man-hours and $46,000 to help complete the project. “All the brigades have to have training, and why not have a training structure like this?”
Smith said he felt it was his job to take on this project with the brigade.
“It was my part to play and everyone will benefit from it,” he added.