Veteran captain named training officer of the year
April 5, 2016 - John Uptegrove, captain and training officer for Puslinch Fire and Rescue Services in Ontario, was named the 2015 Ontario Training Officer of the Year on Jan. 6.
Not long after the Uptegrove received the recognition, he served as incident commander for a devastating barn fire in Puslinch that killed 43 racehorses. The barn’s owners and the horses were well known to members of the fire department, who trained with them on large-animal rescues in 2015.
The barn was fully engulfed when crews arrived, which made rescuing the horses impossible, Uptegrove explained.
“Emotionally, because we’d been in those barns and walked through them, it was hard to know they’d lost those horses,” Uptegrove said. “The guys all felt sorry for the owners and trainers. It’s such a big loss.”
Uptegrove has been a firefighter for Puslinch for 29 years, and said he enjoys training new firefighters. His advice for new trainers is to get educated and informed about the challenges in the fire service and the unique needs of each department.
“Training is near and dear to my heart,” he said. “I want to make sure everyone goes home at night.”
Uptegrove was awarded his distinction by the Ontario Association of Fire Training Officers during the annual conference in September, and was recognized by his township in January.
Puslinch Fire Chief Steven Goode said in an email Uptegrove is integral to the success and safety of his department, and surrounding departments as well.
“John does not underestimate the value of training and ensures that our staff practise and maintain their basic skills,” Goode said.