It was another successful weekend of spring volunteer firefighter training in Oliver.
“We had a fantastic weekend,” said Rob Graham, the Oliver Fire Department’s Fire Information Officer as the two-day Volunteer Firefighters of BC Spring Seminar wrapped up Sunday. “We had firefighters from all over the province, a department out of Washington State and a couple out of Alberta — Banff and Lake Louise.
“We ended up with about 70 departments and about 325 registered firefighters participating in 26 different hands-on training scenarios.”
Those scenarios included everything from diesel and chemical spills, automobile fires and extraction, a live fire building, water rescue and others firefighters might encounter in the course of their service.
“Our firefighters are working as instructors and teachers in almost all of the scenarios,” Rob explained. “We spend months ahead of this to plan and figure out what scenarios we want to have, although some of them we carry over from year-to-year.”
FortisBC, which has helped sponsor the event over the last few years, provided instruction on several utility-related scenarios.
“This year, we had Fortis Electric, Fortis Gas and Fortis Liquid Natural Gas as well. They ran through the different training on safety and how to behave with those types of utilities.”
The annual provincial event — organized by the Volunteer Firefighters Association of BC — comes to Oliver every second year. In odd years, the event is held at various locations around the province.
“We stepped up to say Oliver’s willing to host it every second year,” said Rob. “We’ve got a great grounds here where we can host everything in one location without having to bus people around.”
The department receives assistance from other volunteer units in Osoyoos, Okanagan Falls and Willowbrook to make the event successful and also invites other organizations — such as the BC Justice Institute — to participate.
The Volunteer Firefighters Association of BC provides a voice for volunteer firefighters, develops programs that reflect their needs and furthers fire prevention training and education.