Fire training aims to save firefighter lives

Firefighters from BC, Saskatchewan, and Yukon are in Kelowna to participate in fire ground survival training.

Teaching them are instructors from both Canada and the U.S. representing the International Association of Firefighters.

“These crews are learning from each other and finding new ways to extricate themselves and operate safely,” says Kelowna Fire Chief Travis Whiting. “It’s just a great opportunity to use peer-to-peer knowledge.”

The purpose of the training seminar is to educate firefighters on what to do in a worst case scenario, mainly when they get separated from the rest of their crew during an operation.

“A ‘mayday’ happens when a building collapses, and a firefighter calls ‘mayday mayday mayday,’ and at that point, we have to send in a team to rescue them,” says Kelowna Professional Firefighter's Association President Mike Hill. “But this course here is to save lives, because a lot of the time you have to self-rescue, and that’s your best chance of survival.”

Throughout this training, firefighters safely re-enact scenarios such as crawling through a tunnel full of wires, or climbing down a ladder head-first.

Each scenario is based on a past incident where another firefighter was killed. This way, firefighters learn how to get through the situation unharmed.

After the training wraps up on Thursday, the firefighters will then return home to give their own departments the same training.