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Comment: May 2013

We were putting the final touches on this issue on Sunday, April 7, just before I left for Peace River, Alta., to cover, participate in, and present at the 2013 Northwest Fire Conference and training session.

April 22, 2013
By Laura King


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We were putting the final touches on this issue on Sunday, April 7, just before I left for Peace River, Alta., to cover, participate in, and present at the 2013 Northwest Fire Conference and training session.

It had been a newsy weekend for fire – not the kind we like. The funeral for four members of the Dunsmuir family killed in a house fire in East Gwillimbury, Ont., was on the Friday; a 53-year-old fire captain in Philadelphia was killed in a multi-alarm blaze at a retail/residential complex on the Saturday night.

While those tragedies made headlines, what struck me as I scrolled through Twitter dozens of times that weekend, was the volume of training happening in fire halls across North America.

Gord Schreiner, the fire chief in Comox, B.C., was in Atlantic Canada that weekend doing his stop bad road show on safe and effective scene management for hundreds of mostly volunteer firefighters in Newfoundland, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia.

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In its first foray into regional training, the Maritime Fire Chiefs Association brought Schreiner to the east coast for a whirlwind of a week that started in Grand Falls-Windsor, N.L., and spanned seven stops in four provinces in 10 days.

Before 7 a.m. on the Sunday, Schreiner tweeted, “#stopbad Atlantic tour, five of 10 presentations done, 270 students. Halifax today. Safe n effective scene management is making a difference.”

As Schreiner told CBC Newfoundland and Labrador, his mission is to stop the bad things from happening on the fire ground.

If you follow Schreiner on Twitter (@comoxfire) you know that he is passionate about training and giving back. Indeed, Schreiner was the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs career chief of the year in 2010, even before he started the stop-bad tour.

Watch for Schreiner in the fall issues of Fire Fighting in Canada.

South of the border, Ryan Pennington (see page 42) was teaching a class on hoarding fires to 34 students at the Wyoming County Fire Department in Pineville, West Virginia – bizarrely, the department had a heavy contents fire that evening. That class brought the number of firefighters who had heard Pennington’s hoarding message to 299 in the first few months of 2013.

And Rich Gasaway was in Indiana sharing his situational awareness message (see page 10) with firefighters there; the stop in Louisville was one of 56 in April and May.  (Pennington and Gasaway will be at FDIC Atlantic in Wolfville, N.S., in June.)

Meantime, fire chiefs in Saskatchewan were in the midst of their annual conference that weekend, and FDIC in Indianapolis was just around the corner.

Back to Peace River. The four-day conference combined Drager’s Live Fire Training Tour (LiFTT) with classroom sessions (my How Tweet it is presentation on media coverage of Elliot Lake) and hands-on training, with Canadian Firefighter extrication writer Randy Schmitz, among others.

It was, I know, just one of many training sessions in Canadian fire halls that weekend. I’ll let you know how it went.


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