From the Editor: January 2019
Learning the Ropes
We watch, a group of us, as four firefighters in full turnout gear and self-contained breathing apparatus pull a single line towards a bright orange and yellow inferno just a few metres away.
The fire is licking at the cockpit of a burned and very blackened aircraft fuselage on the ground.
The firefighters move in unison, slowly and cautiously. They open the nozzle and point it at the ball of fire. Seconds later, the blaze is under control.
The scene was all part of a mock disaster exercise that was staged at a Firefighter Training Day and Career Expo a few months back at the Fire & Emergency Services Training Institute (FESTI) in Mississauga, Ont.
The event was presented by Canadian Firefighter magazine. We have a story and photos on pages 7 to 9.
Firefighters from across Ontario and some from Quebec attended the Training Day, including Jason Clark, a captain and volunteer firefighter who writes our Front Seat column for Canadian Firefighter.
I had plenty of opportunity to wander the grounds of the sprawling FESTI campus, adjacent to Pearson International Airport, and see firefighters training in various scenarios.
The aircraft fire and rescue scenario was a highlight of the day. It gave firefighters an opportunity to find out what it’s like under such circumstances.
In another area, firefighters practised live-fire search-and-rescue techniques inside a smokehouse while other groups worked on auto extrication and forcible entry procedures. It was deadly serious business.
The firefighters were attentive. They were involved. They were engaged.
They participated. They asked questions. Above all, they learned.
Each firefighter had signed up for specific hands-on training, intending to acquire new skills or, alternately, hone their expertise in a specific area.
Inside, at the Career Expo, prospective firefighters were given an inside look at the fire service from those in the know.
They learned how to go about seeking a job as a firefighter, what skills fire chiefs are looking for, what’s required once they’re on board and how to move up the ranks.
Special thanks go to Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs executive director Richard Boyes, FESTI Deputy Fire Chief Dave Lane, Cambridge Fire Department Chief Neil Main, Milton Fire Department Chief Dave Pratt and firefighter Kory Pearn of St. Thomas, for helping out at the Career Expo.
Highlight of the Career Expo, in my opinion, were mock interviews conducted by Lane, Main and Pratt. A few brave souls stepped forward to be interviewed in front of the class and, afterwards, were offered some guidance.
The sessions were a great learning experience for potential recruits, giving them a taste of how they should conduct themselves and what it will be like when they get to the interview stage.
As an added bonus, those at the Career Expo were able to mingle with firefighters during their lunch break and learn more about the industry.
As we know, firefighting is one of the most challenging, fast-paced, rewarding professions around. We also know it’s a highly competitive field, with thousands applying for jobs every year.
Standing out from the crowd isn’t easy. The Career Expo, however, certainly gave prospects a leg up.
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