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From the editor: October 2015


September 28, 2015
By Laura King


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We had planned this issue on building safe training facilities long before college student Adam Brunt died during ice-water rescue training in February in Hanover, Ont.

Just before we went to print in late September, the Hanover Police issued notice that no criminal charges would be laid against the owner of the private, third-party training company that ran the exercise.

The Ministry of Labour, however, continues its own investigation and has another four months to determine whether it will charge the owner/trainer under the Occupational Health and Safety Act – perhaps a bit of a conundrum given that there was no employer/employee relationship between the instructor and the student.

Regardless, the fatality – Brunt was the second student to die in a training exercise with this particular provider – renewed discussion and debate about possibly regulating third-party trainers, NFPA certification and, particularly in Ontario where firefighter candidate testing is being standardized, the need for  students to pad their resumes with these extra courses when the departments re-train them using their methods and best practices anyway.

There’s not enough room here for thorough debate. Certainly, there are excellent trainers – many hired by fire departments – that provide qualified instructors and quality programs. But two students have died, so clearly something needs to be fixed.

Adam’s father, Al Brunt, is determined to make a difference – lobby politicians, change legislation, whatever is necessary to ensure that training becomes safer.

And in that he is not unlike Miles Boulter, the subject of our cover story on page 16.

There is not a firefighter on Prince Edward Island who doesn’t know Miles Boulter.   Boulter runs the PEI Firefighters School. He built the desks in the classroom. There’s a full-size model of Boulter’s house inside the training building, used for teaching search and rescue.

Boulter built it. And they came. He made a difference.

There’s a similar facility in Comox, B.C., where Chief Gord Shreiner is the man with the plan to ensure his firefighters and those from surrounding departments experience top-notch training, often.

In Thunder Bay, where I participated in a Drager Live Fire Training Tour event in early September, 68 firefighters experienced live fire during FireCon, northern Ontario’s annual training weekend; it was the largest live-fire training event Drager had done to date at the Thunder Bay Fire Rescue training ground – 34 departments!

Drager runs the annual training weekend in Peace River too; and it has grown with Drager’s help and the passion for training exuded by Chief Lance Bushie and High Level Chief Rodney Schmidt.

Back in the Maritimes, the Nova Scotia Firefighters School has just undergone an extensive facelift – its new training building and props are second to none.

At FireCon, I was impressed when the trainers offered again and again to show me, again and again, transitional attack (SLICE-RS), until I had it down pat.

And I was impressed by how safely the entire two days of training were run – as an incident with ICs, accountability, cold zones, warm zones and hot zones, and strict protocols.

Training weekends and programs happen everywhere, all the time. Every weekend, my Twitter feed is full of tweets and pictures from  events at which volunteers volunteer their time and expertise to make sure everyone goes home – every time.

Let’s make sure they do.


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