Fire Fighting in Canada

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Trainer’s Corner: December 2014

As the new year approaches, training officers across our nation get out their calendars and begin their juggling act, known as planning out the year’s training schedule.  
Realistically, a year boils down to 42 (on average) nights. And when you consider practice nights (volunteer departments) are usually between 1.5 and two hours, there really isn’t a lot of time (between 63 and 84 hours). Responding to MVIs (extrication), first-response medical calls and/or first response hazmat calls really impacts training requirements. Once each quarter, departments should schedule a live-fire exercise and a driver training drill.

The following are some basic topics training officers should consider as part of their scheduling: cold-weather emergencies; ropes and knots; CPR and AED; forcible entry; chimney fires; apparatus and equipment; ventilation; SCBA; hose handling; preplans; area familiarization; fire suppression; fire extinguishers; advancing hoselines; cold- weather pumping; drafting; hose testing; hazmat operations; ground ladders; vehicle extrication; vehicle fires; below-grade fires; RIT; roof operations; hose streams; confined-space rescue; LPG emergencies; wildland fires; interface fires; structure fires; downed-firefighter rescue; arrival reports; size-up; ICS 100; PPE; firefighter safety; communication; alarms; water supply; nozzles and streams; building construction; fire suppression; BLEVE; salvage and overhaul; firefighter survival; mayday, disaster and large-incident response.

 Once you lay out the main topics you can add specific objectives under each. I have included 13 such topics as examples. Each member should be given the opportunity to demonstrate safe knowledge of and ability to perform safely.

■ Rescue equipment

  • The set-up of the hydraulic tools system
  • The set-up of the lifting bags system
  • The set-up of emergency lighting
■ Building entry
  • The proper procedure for entering a fire building
■ Ladders
  • Proper ladder handling techniques
  • Ladder the side of a building and safely secure the lanyard
  • Climb the ladder and demonstrate leg lock
  • Demonstrate sounding the roof
  • Lower and stow the ladder
 ■ Small equipment
Demonstrate the starting and safety procedures for:
  • Chain saw / Reciprocating saw
  • PPV fan
  • Heat detector
  • Generators under load with all lights
  • Demonstrate the steps for rescue of a downed firefighter with SCBA
 ■ Pre-connect deployment and loading
  • Demonstrate the deployment of a 1-1/2 pre-connect
  • Participate in loading a pre-connect
■ Over the bank
  • Perform at least three rescue knots
  • Demonstrate proper life-line anchoring
 ■ Self Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA)
  • Demonstrate knowledge of SCBA use
  • Demonstrate the donning and doffing SCBA
  • Demonstrate troubleshooting the SCBA
■ Foam induction
  • Demonstrate knowledge of setting up the foam inductor (E52)
  • Demonstrate the proper cleanup procedures
  • Demonstrate the proper application methods of foam
■ Hose rolls
Demonstrate the following hose rolls
  • Straight roll
  • Single donut roll
  • Double donut roll
  • Locking donut roll
 ■ Hose appliances
  • Demonstrate extending a hose line using a hose clamp
  • Demonstrate replacing a broken hose section
  • Describe and/or demonstrate the proper use of gated wye add hose clamps
 ■ Hose lays
  • Demonstrate knowledge of a forward lay
  • Demonstrate knowledge of a reverse lay
  • Demonstrate knowledge of a split lay
  • Demonstrate knowledge of a hydrant lay
 ■ First responder
  • Perform at least two first-responder core skills
  • Demonstrate these core skills in a complete scenario
  • Set up the basket stretcher in preparation for an over-the-bank rescue
  • Package a patient in preparation to be rescued
Further considerations: Think through each practice objective. Follow your department’s SOGs. Use the incident command system throughout your training, and it will become automatic in your response operations. Have a stop procedure (usually a blown whistle). There should be no tolerance for horseplay. Assign safety officers for any hands-on drills or evolutions.

 Instructors should, whenever possible, use the three Ds at their stations:
Demonstrate: instructors demonstrate the proper steps to complete the tasks required.  
Describe: instructors demonstrate the proper steps again, only this time they describe what is being done one step at a time.
Do: instructors will ask each member to do the task in the proper manner.

I hope this helps. The goal is to practise the basic skills until they become automatic.  Two last things: your best instructional tool is preparedness, and, when possible, mix in the fun of competition. Please continue to train as if lives depend on it.

Ed Brouwer is the chief instructor for Canwest Fire in Osoyoos, B.C., and Greenwood Fire and Rescue. The 25-year veteran of the fire service is also a fire warden with the B.C. Ministry of Forests, a wildland urban interface fire-suppression instructor/evaluator and an ordained disaster-response chaplain. Contact Ed at

November 26, 2014 
By Ed Brouwer

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