VALLEY – From car fires to flashovers, firefighters in Colchester County got some hands-on training recently thanks to a Live Fire Training Tour course with Dräger Safety Canada.
“I want to advance my knowledge and training, and bring it back to my brigade,” said Cara Holley, a firefighter with the Salmon River brigade, while at the Valley-Kemptown Fire Brigade. “We live in changing times and it’s important to stay current. I want to stay up there.
Shaun Burke, with the Brookfield Fire and Emergency Services, was also a local firefighter taking the training and would lead his fellow firefighters through it.
“We don’t do enough live training,” he said. “When you get called to one structure fire every two years, what practical experience do you get?”
Both firefighters said the majority of the calls they respond to with their respective departments are mutual aid and medical assistance calls.
The training they received also included propane tank fires and a confidence maze, working with their breathing apparatus.
The three-day training saw a group of about 10 spend a Friday with officials from Dräger and the Colchester County Firefighters Association, where they learned the ins and outs of the evolutions so they could walk their counterparts through them the following two days.
“It’s great to have Dräger here, they travel all over Canada,” said Holley.
“It’s a totally different view being an instructor or assistant rather than a participant,” added Burke.
Dave Westlake, the training coordinator for the county firefighters association, said 11 departments from the county, as well as some from Pictou County, would have firefighters on hand. He said the training is a unique opportunity to complement and enhance the skills firefighters may or may not encounter on a regular basis.
Sandi Davis John, the director of marketing for Dräger, explained the company makes all the equipment they use in their training evolutions.
“We bring in experienced fire personnel. The firefighters learn really practical skills they can use on calls that are typical for this area…lifesaving skills to help keep them safe,” she said.
Bringing firefighters from numerous departments together with those from Dräger, Davis John said best practices get shared and those participating get tools/skills to take back to their comrades.
“Some live fire training is not easily accessible,” she said.
Because Dräger’s training events are free, Davis John said they have to make sure they have strong hosts, complete with resources and the willingness to put in the man hours. Along with the Valley-Kemptown department and the firefighters association, Harris Home Hardware and Wilson’s Fuels had a hand in bringing the training to the area.
Along with the hands on training, firefighters also spent some time in the classroom. One of the topics covered when it comes to vehicle fires surrounded electric vehicles.
“Knowing where the batteries are, which extinguishers to use, and how high the voltage is,” said Davis John. “Also where they shouldn’t cut because of electrical voltage.”