Fire fighters from around Central Alberta gathered last weekend for training exercises at Red Deer’s Emergency Services Training Facility in Riverside Industrial Park.
Members of the Blackfalds, Bentley, Lacombe, Eckville and Rimbey Fire Departments came together to practice scenarios that involve active, hostile environments and how to carry out a search.
“A lot of departments that are volunteer departments train to be the best of the best,” said Lacombe Fire Fighter Greg Lamy.
“They do courses like we’re doing now to meet those experiences, and help not only train for our own scenarios, but to train for applying to another department.”
Lamy had the chance to experience the event from the top of the command chain. Instead of being assigned to either a search team, a Rapid Intervention Team (RIT) or an overhaul team, Lamy was instructing the other fire fighters and trying to organize the scenario. “This was the first time that I’ve been in charge, so it was a little nerve-wracking,” he said.
Lamy gave a run through of his duties, which included delegating a team for surveillance, initiating a primary search, a secondary search and sending out an intervention team. He said that there is a lot to remember and sometimes it was difficult because in a training exercise, there are many people trying to give advice and suggest information to be included.
“Normally, my role as a fire fighter is I come in on a truck, whether I’m driving or not, and I’m assigned to one of three teams. I’m either the guy doing a search, or I’m doing the RIT or I’m doing overhaul.”
Lamy explained that an overhaul team are those who enter a scene after the fire has been put out, victims have been removed from the site and it is time for a final survey of hot spots or clearing out tools used. The role of the intervention team is to help their fellow fire fighters in case of a negative scenario.
There were many seasoned fire fighter volunteers such as Lamy, but among the training exercise were also several probationary fire fighters.
“Today, basically our task was to help with the grunt work for the 700 class. This is our last day of training, and then we either get accepted as a fire fighter or not,” said probationary Fire Fighter Jordan Dobbin, of Lacombe Volunteer Fire Department.
The probationary volunteers are the last people to head in with search or intervention teams. They help things go smoothly by assisting their more senior partners and keeping the scene clear of obstacles.
“The scariest part for me was just learning about everything that fire fighters actually do and saying yes I’m going to do this. Once I got past that, and decided I would do this even with the risks, I learned you have a great group of people that will help and are always there,” said Dobbin.