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Colchester County firefighters hone skills in live fire simulations

Firefighters work as a team as they converge on a simulated propane tank fire during live fire training in Valley. Several different situations provided by Draeger Safety Canada gave firefighters a taste of the real thing.
Firefighters work as a team as they converge on a simulated propane tank fire during live fire training in Valley. Several different situations provided by Draeger Safety Canada gave firefighters a taste of the real thing.

VALLEY, NS - Firefighters endured a weekend full of car fires, propane leaks and tight spaces as they underwent specialized training at the Valley Kemptown Fire Station.

Hosted by the Colchester Firefighters Association, the Live Fire Training Tour saw 60 firefighters from all over the county participate in a weekend of hands-on training from Draeger Safety Canada.

“This kind of live fire training isn’t available to every department,” said Sandi Davis John, director of marketing for Draeger Safety Canada.

“To have this training, it would cost a lot of money because they would have to travel so instead, we bring the training to them.”

Dave Westlake, Protection Services Coordinator with the County of Colchester helped spearhead the training sessions.

“The success of a program like this depends on the willingness of the host to put a lot of work into it,” Davis John said. “Dave and this department certainly had that.”

Sponsored by Wilson’s and Home Hardware, the CFA was able to bring Draeger in to hold a series of live fire simulations, such as propane and car fires, and also taught firefighters about risk management and multitasking.

“We have a large propane tank that we use to simulate what they would do if there was a tank leaking and on fire,” said Davis John.

“We also have a car that is set up with propane which is controlled by a control box, and simulates how they would control a car fire if there was gas leaking. They can’t put that fire out with their hoses, so it allows them to practice control and management.”

Draeger travels to different provinces each year to provide specialized training to firefighters to increase their skills and techniques, and ready them for new threats they may not have been aware of.

“We are more aware of the risks firefighters are facing today,” said Davis John.

“Now, we talk about when not to put out a fire and when not to subject a firefighter to a hazardous situation. When there is nobody to be saved, should a firefighter go in to put out a fire? We are teaching them to ask themselves that question.”

One of the newest threats firefighters face today is the use of new materials in homes that weren’t available a few decades ago, and can quickly cause flashovers during a fire.

“In houses today, there are a lot of synthetic materials, and when the fire builds up, those materials put off gases,” said Davis John.

“When those gases reach a point where they become flammable, they all ignite at once. In the old days, houses were constructed much differently and prevented this. Now, firefighters need to be aware that a house can ignite much quicker today.”

A car fire was one of the situations faced during training on the weekend. The live fire simulations were designed to give county firefighters experience with what they could face on a day-to-day basis.

 

cody.mceachern@trurodaily.com

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