Throwback: Teamwork object of 1989 firefighters’ exercise

From the Humboldt Journal files, April 26, 1989

HUMBOLDT —  Interior attacks, breathing apparatus and search were all areas studied and practised by 21 firefighters from Annaheim, Muenster, Lanigan and Humboldt last Saturday [April 22, 1989] and Sunday [April 23].

The mutual aid exercise took place at the former Nick Muench farm home east of Humboldt under the supervision of the provincial Fire Commissioner's Office, Regina and in co-operation with Saskatchewan Emergency Measures.

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Rick McCullough, principal of training with the Fire Commissioner's Office, said 70 to 80 schools of differing types were held each year with volunteer fire departments. However, this mutual aid exercise was only the second of its kind held in the province.

John MacMillan, emergency planning consultant with emergency measures, said the training was designed to look at the mutual aid aspect of different departments working together.

In the case of fires or other emergency situations, the men learned to rely on others in addition to the personnel of their own departments or units.

"They learn teamwork, even to something as simple and basic as assisting with one another's breathing apparatus," MacMillan said.

Emergency measures is co-ordination and utilization of resources in place today, "not a red light and a white hat," MacMillan said.

On Saturday, the firefighters did "search" in the abandoned farmhouse. Their face masks were blacked out to simulate a smoke-filled building, and they then attempted to find victims in the house.

They were also trained in the use of breathing apparatus, when, how and where to use them. Sunday saw "interior attacks" on the farm house. Here firefighters learned about heat generated by fires, how a fire catches hold and how to apply water to knock down the fire and gain entry to the building.

Finally on Sunday, the house was levelled in a controlled burn.

McCullough said the Fire Commissioner's Office had just given approval to base two training officers in Saskatoon. This would make a total of six instructors, in addition to the principal of training.

The two men in Saskatoon will mean less travel time for everyone, McCullough said. Previously, all training was done from the Regina office, which meant hours of travel for personnel just getting to and from training points.

For exercises such as the one last weekend, the men from the Fire Commissioner's Office have a "travelling road show". They bring TVs, VCRs, extra breathing apparatus, portable water tanks, and extra sets of turn-out gear. "You name it, we have it," McCullough said. There is no charge to the volunteer departments for such training. All funding comes from the provincial government.

In addition to training firefighters, the men of the Fire Commissioner's Office do plans of approval for all public buildings, conduct fire inspections throughout the province and are responsible for investigation of fires.

Muenster Fire Chief Ron Torborg said the exercise had taken five weeks to plan. Only through the co-operation of the other fire departments which took part in the weekend training, and the personnel from the Fire Commissioner's Office could the weekend have been so successful.

A very important part of the weekend was the availability of the farm house. McCullough said although there are many abandoned farms in the province, most of them have deteriorated to such an extent that they are unusable for such an exercise.

The Muenster Fire Dept. acknowledges the contribution of Rosemary and Mike Schenher in making the house available for the training exercise.

© Copyright Humboldt Journal

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