Training prepares firefighters for worst

Firefighters train on techniques to extinguish vehicle fires. This prop uses liquid propane to simulate the fire (now extinguished in the photo). Training occurred at the 23rd annual Northern Hands-on Education and Awareness Training (HEAT) Fire Conference held May 3-6 in Peace River.

Richard Froese
South Peace News

Just as wildfires started in the region, firefighters gathered in Peace River for the 23rd annual Northern Hands-on Education and Awareness Training (HEAT) Fire Conference held May 3-6.

Organized by fire chiefs of the Peace region, the event offers a mix of practical training and lecture-style presentations, says Peace River regional fire chief Tim Harris, treasurer of Peace Regional Fire Chiefs.

More than 80 firefighters attended the event, he says.

“While 82 were registered for the seminar sessions and hands-on training portion on May 5-6, many firefighters had to leave early as they were called back to their municipalities to engage in wildfires that had started there,” Harris says.

“By Saturday (May 6), only 20 firefighters remained at the conference.”

He says 60 firefighters attended the live fire training portion of the conference on May 3-4.

“It was unfortunate that many firefighters had to leave early from the conference, but it is just a part of the unpredictable nature of our business,” Harris says.

“On behalf of the Northern HEAT organizing committee, I wish all firefighters across the province who are engaged in wildfires in their communities a safe and positive outcome.”

Firefighters from across Alberta participated in four different stations to experience training in fire behaviour and flashover, advancing hose lines into buildings for interior fire attacks, firefighter self-rescue from collapsed buildings and confined space, ventilation, fire vehicles and barbecue fires.

Presentations on May 5-6 featured lectures on firehouse excellence, fireground strategy, tactics and decision-making by Mike Gagliano, retired captain of the Seattle Fire Department.

Firefighters received hands-on training in other session from renowned instructors that included firefighter survival and rapid intervention crews operations from Frank Nasca of the Livermore – Pleasanton First Department in California, firefighter fundamentals from County of Grande Prairie Regional Fire Services district fire chief Bryan Hall and Capt. Mike Shykora and Fort Saskatchewan Fire Department assistant fire chief Nolan Jesperson.

Hands-on training was held at the Peace River Fire Department’s training site at the West Hill industrial area.

Harris serves as the fire chief and manager of protective services for the Town of Peace River and regional fire chief for the County of Northern Lights.

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