Things heat up with live-fire training

Nanaimo firefighter practises his trade during live-fire training Saturday on a donated house on Northfield Road.  - NIOMI PEARSON photo
Nanaimo firefighter practises his trade during live-fire training Saturday on a donated house on Northfield Road.
— image credit: NIOMI PEARSON photo

It’s not every day Nanaimo Fire Rescue gets to set a house on fire.

But that’s exactly what firefighters did over the weekend, thanks to a donation which allowed them to complete live-fire training exercises on an old structure on the corner of Northfield and Boxwood roads.

“The owners approached us a while back that they were going to tear the house down and asked if we’d like to do some training in it,” said assistant chief Wade Smith. “The last time we did it had to be five or six years ago – we did a house out in the Chase River area.”

Live-fire training offers one really important element for firefighter training – it’s real.

“It’s invaluable training for us to do it with real heat and real smoke in real conditions with proper building materials. It can’t be duplicated in our training centre, this takes it to another level of awareness for our officers and our firefighters,” Smith said.

“That gives our officers a better chance to do a read on it and develop a plan of action in real life.”

The department also utilized the opportunity to employ a few new tactics, such as switching from positive pressure ventilation to positive pressure attack.

In the months leading up to the exercise, the fire department used the house to complete rapid intervention training. Then the house was cleaned of hazardous materials like asbestos and prepped for burning.

Notices of the burning were delivered to residents in the immediate area and signs were put out the night before the training was to begin.

On Saturday, the house and garage were burned room by room, each creating a different scenario for the firefighters. Then, in the final scenario, the structure was burned to the ground.

Fire officials had hoped the building would last over two days but the building did not hold up and the burning was complete by end of day Saturday.

The entire event was extensively captured on camera and will be used for training purposes.

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