Fire fighters from nine BC cities, as well as Whitehorse and Swift Current, are in Kelowna for four days of training on how to save their lives while disoriented, injured or trapped in a burning building.
“It’s different for the public, but when we get into trouble, we have to have these skills to rescue ourselves,” says Brian Valentine with the Prince George Fire Department. “No-one else is coming for us so it’s invaluable training.”
The various practice scenarios for escaping burning buildings include disentanglement from wires in a tight space and following a hose line to get outside while blinded by smoke.
“It’s humbling,” says Kelowna fire fighter Enzo Nanci after getting through the tangle of wires. “Knowing that a skill like this, if you don’t do it right, you’re going to die. That’s the plain and simple truth.”
The training is being taught by six Master Instructors from fire departments in Canada and the United States.
“It will save a fire fighter’s life, it has saved a fire fighters life,” says Geoff Boisseau with the Toronto Fire Department. “We’ve used these skill sets a couple times in Toronto where it has been credited with saving them.”
The trainees will pass on what they learned as safety instructors for colleagues in their own departments.
“We touch a few and then they touch a whole lot more fire fighters,” says instructor Kevin Kalmus from Austin, Texas. “I want them to walk away and think ‘If I’m ever in trouble that’s what I’m going to do.'”