Firefighters from across North America have descended upon Saanich to learn skills that could end up saving their own lives and the lives of their comrades.
Organized by the Saanich Fire Department and the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), the intensive sessions cross-train firefighters to become instructors who can then provide these survival skills to crews in their respective departments.
Brian Catinus, president of the Saanich Fire Fighters Association, IAFF Local 967, said the course teaches participants to escape situations that have historically been fatal for firefighters.
“They learn the confidence and tools to go back and show their own members to survive,” he said.
Twenty-nine firefighters from 16 departments across Western Canada, and eight instructors from across North America, including Arizona, California, Michigan and New York, are participating in this Train the Trainer program.
Craig Ford, acting platoon captain with the Saanich Fire Department, called the training “top-notch.”
“It’s unbelievable the level of experience that they bring, and also the knowledge that they are leaving us with to teach our own members,” he said.
Ford said training never stops. “Really, what we are training for is the worst day any firefighter will ever have,” he said. “So it’s really important training.”
The course teaches firefighters how to escape burning buildings when trapped by exiting through windows with or without ladders.
The training course — which took place over this week — draws in part on recent tragedy. On Jan. 23, 2005, two fires claimed three firefighters in New York City, while injuring four. Two of the firefighters died from falls.
“They realized they needed a better system for getting out of a window quickly without ladder,” said Catinus.