Firefighters practice a positive pressure ventilation attack at a training session hosted by the Oliver Fire Department in early May. The session was attended by members from around the Fraser Valley Regional District

Hemlock firefighters give up weekend for intense training

Hemlock Valley fire department practices rescue skills in Oliver

Marty McKinney

For the Observer

During the first weekend of May, firefighters from many of the southern B.C. volunteer fire departments participated in a weekend of body-punishing training sessions in Oliver, B.C., including Hemlock Valley.

Some drove in from Vancouver Island, and as far east as Fernie, which is an 8 hour drive.

These firefighters and officers usually give up days from their vacations to attend events like this and do it to support their communities.

The Oliver Fire Department hosts these training sessions every two years and the whole community gets involved in preparing and running this large event. Equipment from several of the surrounding area departments is also used so that all the Oliver trucks are not tied up in the event of an incident requiring a response from the department.

Just less than 400 volunteer firefighters and officers participated and a number of the members brought their wives along to join in the Saturday evening banquet and the Saturday afternoon wine tour and lunch put on just for them.

The meal was great and was supplied by the local Fire House Pub and Restaurant.

There were 24 training stations and each session was about an hour long, so getting through all of them was not possible. Each participant was assigned eight sessions for the two days.

They included manufacturers’ displays, driver training, firefighter health, ghost maze, Fire Fit,

RIT Challenge, forcible entry, pumpers, natural gas fires, auto stabilization, explosives, high pressure pumping, low angle rescue, foam pit, auto extrication, high angle rescue, fire extinguishers, hydraulic ventilation, positive pressure attack, swift water rescue, patient care, Fortis electrical safety, VEIS (Vent-Enter-Isolate-Search), and confined space rescue.

A number of manufacturers set up displays and sales booths in the arena to show off their equipment.

During the opening ceremony and speeches the mayor of Oliver was invited to press the button to drop a pick-up truck hanging from a crane into an old school bus and then blow them up with explosives.

Pictures can be seen on the Hemlock Valley Fire Department Facebook Page.

The FVRD Fire Departments were well represented with members from the Hemlock Valley,

Chilliwack River Valley, Columbia Valley, Boston Bar and Yale all sending members to the training.

Cultus Lake Fire Department also sent several of its members.

The weather cooperated by being cooler than it has been as it gets very warm while performing the exercises in full bunker gear.

By the end of the day my bunker jacket felt like it weighed a 100 pounds.

-Marty McKinney is the fire chief for the Hemlock Valley Fire Department.

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