Capt. Earl Ten Have, of Nanaimo Fire Rescue, works through an obstacle that requires him to free himself from entangling wires during a training scenario Friday. Nanaimo’s firefighters are learning how to save themselves when fire conditions turn deadly with the Fire Ground Survival Program, a mobile training system created by the International Association of Fire Fighters. CHRIS BUSH/The News Bulletin

Nanaimo firefighters train to save themselves

Fire Ground Survival Program teaches firefighters to stay alive when structure fires turn perilous

Nanaimo’s firefighters are learning how to save themselves, thanks to special training and equipment on loan from the Fire Ground Survival Program.

The mobile training system travels in a custom truck and trailer and is supplied and funded by the International Association of Fire Fighters Canada.

Firefighters are at Nanaimo Fire Rescue Station No. 2 this week being put through two days of specialized training, obstacles and scenarios that can help them cope with sudden emergencies while fighting fires from inside structures and evacuate themselves when help can’t reach them.

“Our firefighters are here learning how to self-evacuate in the event of an emergency,” said Karen Fry, Nanaimo Fire Rescue chief. “Many times we might be in a fire and in the course of trying to rescue occupants or put out a fire they may find themselves in a perilous or dangerous situation, so they need the skills to help themselves and be able to evacuate.”

The training teaches firefighters how to escape from such situations as being entangled in wires and how to breach walls to escape to safety if a ceiling collapses or heat and other conditions within the structure suddenly become too dangerous. The training focuses especial on self-evacuation should a firefighter be separated from his or her team. The training scenarios simulate real conditions and situations that have claimed the lives of firefighters battling structure fires.

There are several truck and trailer training units that operate in Western Canada. The one sent to Nanaimo operates in B.C.

“What happens is, wherever the truck and trailer was last, one of us physically goes and picks it up and drives it to our own department,” said Nanaimo Fire Rescue lieutenant Chad Porter. “We submit receipts for fuel and maintenance and those things, back to our provincial association and they reimburse 100 per cent of the cost. The employer provides us the time to do the training, but the actual apparatus and tools are all completely maintained by the International Association of Fire Fighters.”

The training unit will be in the city until firefighters from Nanaimo’s four fire stations rotate through the training program.
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