District of Sparwood councillors Brad Bowen

Firefighter training for Sparwood councillors

Sept. 6 saw some additions to Sparwood’s Fire Department.

Sept. 6 saw some additions to Sparwood’s Fire Department. District of Sparwood Council members were invited to come see first hand some of the training exercises that the department would typically practice. The public was also invited to the event to see what it takes to keep a fire department active.

“The community and media do a lot of reporting on what we do at incidents. Not everyone gets a good idea as to the type of training we do, to effectively answer those calls,” Sparwood’s fire chief, Jim Jones told The Free Press. “We thought it was a good idea to invite the media and council to one of our training nights and put them through similar training as to what we would go through to give them an idea and appreciation of what a volunteer firefighter goes through to serve the community.”

Three scenarios were offered to the participants; a dumpster fire, a burning building search and rescue and a vehicle extrication rescue.

“[The scenarios] were designed to be handled in a fairly quick manner as we had a two hour time limit. The first was a dumpster fire. The councillors and guests strung hose from the fire truck, got the hoseline charged up, went in and opened the dumpster with a handline they pulled from the engine and then they put it out with the hose,” said Jones. “The second scenario was a burning building scenario; we used our big garage here on the property for that. We filled the building up with training smoke and we had a maze built inside and there was a report of a person trapped in the building, so they went in with a hose as a search and rescue crew with equipment to locate the rescue dummy and brought the dummy out. The last one we did was a vehicle extrication to remove a patient from the vehicle. They pulled the hydraulic tools out of the vehicle and fired them all up and continued to cut the vehicle open to rescue the vehicle inside.”

Jones believes that while the training may have been enjoyable it certainly showed some of the tough aspects of the training.

“They have a new appreciation of the amount of training and the time it takes to be a ready to go firefighter.”

The Sparwood Fire Department also trained that night, the majority of which is done on site at the Fire Hall.

“About a third of our training is not on site. We do it at actual possible sites that we would have here in Sparwood. That could be places like a big commercial building or a hotel or somewhere where we have a more complex building structure,” said Jones.

The Sparwood crew has 27 members and is comprised of a Chief and Deputy Chief, five captains, four lieutenants, one safety officer, one training officer and the 14 firefighters. There are 11 rookies at the Sparwood Department, which is more than usual according to the Chief.

“The Department has lost quite a few long term members recently,” explained Jones, “We have one rookie crew of four that is two years in the making. They are within a couple months of challenging their 1001 tests and getting their firefighter certificate. We have four more that are six months away and three that are about a year away.”

Jones hopes to see the event become bi-annual, and is looking forward to the open house, which is the next community event for the Fire Hall. The open house will be on Oct. 11, coinciding with Fire Prevention Week which is Oct. 9 to 14.