KAMLOOPS — When a structure fire breaks out, firefighters jump into action, battling the blaze and even running into the inferno to ensure no one is left inside.
It's a dangerous decision, one that could be deadly without the proper training.
"When somebody's life is at risk in a fire we may go into a building that we otherwise would have stayed outside of," said firefighter Jamie Chase. "So that's putting us into these more high-hazard situation that we need a higher level of confidence and ability to know that we can look after ourselves to do that or we can't even go in there in the first place."
Chase recently attended a four-day training session in Kelowna. He is now using the lessons he learned there to help instruct 125 Kamloops firefighters through the Fire Ground Survival program.
"It was the best course I've ever been involved with," he said. "I've done all kinds of technical rescue courses, ropes, hazmat, but this course was the best one I ever took."
The program takes participants through a series of high-risk scenarios, such as exiting a building from an upper-storey window, and avoiding entanglement in electrical wires.
International Association of Fire Fighters Local 913 president Kris Krutop says this type of training simply doesn't exist in the private sector.
"What we're trying to do is get all of that high risk and put it into one place, one package, where we can bring a crew here on a day or two, and expose them to what the serious risks are in their occupation, and demonstrate vividly how someone lost their lives doing a task that they're going to do over the course of their career, and make them safer," Krutop said.
The IAFF developed a trailer and props specifically for each training exercise. These tools will be making their rounds across western Canada as more fire departments are trained up in the program.
"We're hoping that we'll either bring this back on a periodic basis, or that we'll actually build some of the props and have them here so we can actually use them whenever we want," Krutop said.
Kamloops Fire Rescue doesn't face these risky situations on a daily basis, but with this training, its members will be ready should the worst happen.
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