Don't be afraid - fires and rescue scenes are only for training as Grand Forks welcomes firefighters
At the end of April over 300 firefighters will be descending on Grand Forks to test their mettle. Following their extremely successful Firebells and Fanfares event last summer, the Grand Forks Fire Department decided to invite firefighters back for a busy weekend of training seminars, live demonstrations of tricky rescues, and challenges for prizes. “Over the two days there are sessions where firefighters practice auto extrication, water rescues, stabilization, new car technology, and more,” explains Gary Smith, volunteer firefighter and one of the organizers of the event. “There will be upwards of 24 demonstrators and classroom sessions. The arena will be open with a trade show, souvenirs, and eight new fire trucks for viewing.” The spring training seminar gives volunteer fire department’s junior firefighters exposure to a broad range of both interactive and classroom sessions on a number of fire/rescue related subjects. It’s also a chance for senior firefighters to see how other departments work, to mentor their new members, and to share experience and knowledge with firefighters from across B.C. From handling the jaws-of-life, working with a team conducting a building search, firefighter safety concerns and risk reduction to the dreaded propane “fire tree” exercise, from being a part of a low-angle rescue team to learning about advances in car safety technology affecting rescue, the program is extremely diverse. “To kick off the weekend early Saturday morning we’ve arranged a demonstration involving a helicopter and a long-line with the extrication of a patient out of a car. The scenario is that the car is in a steep ravine that you can’t get to conventionally,” says Smith. “This coordinates the provincial emergency program, the helicopter, and a firefighter. It should be quite spectacular.” The helicopter demo will be in Dick Bartlett Park at about 7:30 a.m. and is open to anyone wanting to watch. The public is also welcome to wander through the trade show at the arena. Other training events will be in City Park, Dick Bartlett, the fields around Dick Bartlett and the arena.
All firefighters are also invited to represent their departments and challenge themselves in the ever-popular “Firefighter Challenge” events occurring throughout Saturday, with trophies and prizes awarded to the winners during that evening’s banquet. Smith says that many local businesses have also contributed to the event, a collaboration that will help the weekend sessions succeed.
Although the spring training seminar has become a provincial tradition through the Oliver Fire Department, Grand Forks has worked up their own unique and diverse palette of training sessions that they hope will challenge firefighters of all levels of experience.