The Estevan Fire Rescue Service is looking forward to welcoming firefighters from across the province for the Saskatchewan Volunteer Firefighters Association’s fall training school and annual general meeting from Oct. 26-28.
More than 300 firefighters from across the province are expected to attend the school. The last time Estevan hosted one of these events was in 2012, when the spring conference was here.
“Everybody just loved coming here,” said Fire Chief Dale Feser. “They love the venue that we provide, and everybody’s super excited to see what we have done with the new fire station here.”
The fire school will begin with registration, the theory portion of the classes and a social on Oct. 26. The fire department will be using the Estevan Comprehensive School (ECS) for the classroom portion of the convention, and the practical skills portion will be at various locations in the city.
The annual general meeting, which is a breakfast session, will be Oct. 27 at ECS. Once that is finished, students will return to the classroom, and finish off the theory components of the classes. If the theory session is finished, they will move into the hands-on component of the training.
A lunch will be served at ECS, and then the firefighters will spend more time on their courses.
New firefighters will take an orientation course on safety and fire behaviour, and then move into personal protective clothing. It’s a precursor to a future class on self-contained breathing apparatus usage and skills and search and rescue drills.
Among the other classes offered will be ground, ladders, ropes and knots; wildland fire suppression; automobile and school bus extraction; fire service instructor; fire safety inspections; pump operations and maintenance; firefighter emergency escape self-rescue; vehicle firefighting; officer management; rapid intervention teams; and incident commander structure.
A specialized course to be offered for the first time will be on handling livestock in emergency situations.
“What this course focuses on is should you be responding to a motor vehicle collision involving a cattle liner or some sort of livestock hauling – it could be horses or pigs or sheep – and how do you properly deal with these emergencies involving livestock and understanding the psychological behaviour of animal once they’ve been injured?” said Feser.
Grain bin entrapment is another course that will be offered for the first time. Firefighters will learn to handle a case of a producer being trapped in a grain bin. The grain can feel like quicksand.
Firefighters and emergency responders need to know how to enter a bin and provide a successful extraction.
“We use specialized equipment to put panels around the patient, and from that point on, it’s actually a very unique way of doing it, because it’s not like we can just pull on this individual, because the grain has them in there so tight that it’s just going to cause further injury to the patient,” said Feser.
An auger has to be inserted to displace the grain material that they’re entrapped in, and the product is displaced around them.
Each firefighter will likely only have time to attend one course.
“The minimum is 16 hours of instruction and practical skills in the environment in order to gain a really good skill set and a comfortable knowledge of what they’re particularly dealing with,” said Feser.
A banquet will take place on Oct. 27, and there will be a few dignitaries in attendance, including leaders from the Saskatchewan Volunteer Firefighters Association, fire commissioner Duane McKay, and a representative of Estevan city council. Awards will also be handed out that night.
Additional time will be dedicated to training on Oct. 28. A lunch will be served that afternoon at the fire hall to wrap up the weekend.
“A lot of these firefighters have a considerable distance to drive home,” said Feser. “It’s not uncommon to see firefighters from as far north as Nipawin and La Ronge.”
The conference has a considerable spinoff for the community, he said. There are tonnes of hotel rooms booked, thanks to all those coming to the city. Not only will there be the 300 firefighters in attendance, but there will be instructors and other volunteers present as well.
And he’s looking forward to showing off the fire hall during the social, with food to be served by local restaurants.
There could also be some local entertainment that night.
Feser said the firefighter school offers a great training environment, and it’s nice to see the students come in from the areas and meet up with old friends.