A firefighter gets rescued during a drill on Monday. Soranne Floarea/The Free Press

Fernie Firefighters brush up on ice rescue training

The Fire Department urges residents to take extra caution around bodies of water in the coming weeks

A group of 12 firefighters jumped on Maiden Lake this past Monday, breaking through the ice to begin this year’s ice rescue training recertification. Wearing bright yellow survival suits to stay warm, Rescue Canada took the firefighters through a number of drills involving inflatable boats, ropes, throw bags and poles.

Living in a region where frozen bodies of water pose a serious safety hazard, the fire department has responded to many calls regarding everything from cars, to pets, to people slipping through ice.

“A lot of people do not know the hazards in and around lakes and ponds in Fernie. Where we see it most is where a person’s dog falls into a lake or pond, and the owner goes in to try and rescue them. Of course they go in right away,” said Brendan Morgan, assistant fire chief. “[During those rescues] we reach with some sort of device, whether it is a ladder, a pipe pole, throwing ropes, or we actually go in.”

As a result of the inherent danger associated with the many recreational activities enjoyed on ice, it is critical for firefighters to practice their ice rescue skills every year, in order to be prepared for emergencies.

This being said, Morgan makes a point to remind residents to take extra caution around all frozen bodies of water, especially as temperatures rise in the coming months.

“Make sure that you’re always safe in and around ponds, especially this time of year when it gets to spring. The hazards are hidden by snow so you have to be really careful in and around ponds,” urged Morgan.


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Two firefighters perform a mock rescue. Soranne Floarea/The Free Press

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