B.C. firefighters converge on Saanich for self-rescue training
Published Tuesday, April 30, 2019 4:44PM PDT Last Updated Wednesday, May 1, 2019 10:22AM PDT
Firefighters from across British Columbia are training in Saanich this week as part of a four-day course that teaches ground survival.
They'll be using a mobile training trailer from the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), taught by firefighters visiting from New York, California, and Wisconsin.
It's a program dedicated to teaching firefighters how to self-rescue.
"They begin the process of creating a routine or a plan," said Lionel Crowther, a master instructor for the program. "If they have a plan before it happens then they can know that they can get through it."
Participants are run through a series of scenarios using props. The life-saving training gives firefighters the skills to survive if they are ever caught in a situation where they get lost, confused, injured, trapped, or have low air supply.
"This is an opportunity for us to train to ensure our own safety," said Saanich Firefighters Association president Brian Catinus. "When we enter a dangerous situation we now have a better tool kit so that we know exactly how to get ourselves out of those bad situations."
The scenarios used to build training exercises are all based on real-life situations.
"All these line-of-duty deaths that are happening across North America, we use those events here," Crowther said. "We get them to almost fail here and understand what those firefighters went through when they were killed, or almost killed."
The mobile training unit transforms into a two-storey structure that allows firefighters to practise climbing out of windows and escaping a multi-storey building.
Crowther says that it's a helpful tool that allows the IAFF to bring training to remote fire stations.
The people participating in the training are from across B.C. and will return home at the end of the week to run firefighters at their home stations through similar training.
"What they're doing is they're teaching life-saving skills to their crews — their friends — so that they get to go home to their families," Crowther said.
Firefighters from Sooke, Oak Bay, Campbell River, Dawson Creek, Yellowknife, Fernie, CFB Esquimalt, Nanaimo, Langford, and Langley are attending the training.