Canadian Firefighter Magazine

Pemberton to get new fire training centre worth $450,000

By Roisin Cullen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Pique Newsmagazine   

Industry News News BC firefighter training training

Mar. 17, 2024, Pemberton, B.C. – Firefighters in Pemberton could soon have their own live fire training building.

At a recent Squamish-Lillooet Regional District (SLRD) board meeting, directors approved allocating up to $110,000 for the project, which comes with an expected total price tag of about $450,000. The remaining $340,000 has been provided through a provincial grant through the Village of Pemberton (VOP).

The VOP applied for the funding, and was shortlisted, to build a three-storey burn structure with a state-of-the-art propane fire simulator at 100-1850 Airport Road. The facility will also allow for training to take place for other Fire Departments in the region and beyond.

Fire Chief Cameron announced that the grant funding was received on Jan. 26. “We are extremely grateful to the Fire Chiefs’ Association of B.C. and the Office of the Fire Commissioner for awarding us the Live Fire Training Centre project grant,” wrote Adams. “The generous support provided not only enhances our training programs, but also grants our teams the opportunity to strengthen our commitment to enhancing preparedness in our region. This investment will elevate our training opportunities and strengthen our training excellence through fostering the development of safer and more resilient firefighters throughout our community. Thank you for investing in our firefighters.”

The Village and its partners will be responsible for land, services, and facilities for the project. The current site will meet the needs, but an immediate investment of $50,000 for preload and concrete works is required in the 2024 Fire budget. Investment in the Training Grounds is a regular inclusion in the Capital Plan.

Construction of the facility is planned to start as soon as the snow clears.

Pemberton Fire Rescue’s current training base allows the force to facilitate fire training in various ways, including vehicle extraction, search and rescue, and live fire simulation. They also built a “cold smoke” building in 2016, used to simulate the low-visibility conditions firefighters will experience when entering an involved building in a safe manner void of hazardous smoke.

At the moment, Pemberton Fire Rescue uses a retired train car to train with any live fire—an outdated steel structure not up to standards for certification, meaning members have to go elsewhere for training at significant cost.

The use of propane at the new planned facility will also reduce exposure to carcinogens, as it will no longer be necessary to burn wood pallets for simulation.

Fire departments across the province were invited to submit applications for Class B fuel live fire training props (or burn structures). Given the need for improvements to the existing training base, Pemberton Fire Rescue applied to the Fire Chiefs Association of B.C. and Office of the Fire Commissioner funding stream for the $340,000 grant.

At a council meeting on Nov. 21, 2023, Deputy Fire Chief, Adam Malpus, said building the new training centre would bring PFR to “the next level.”

“This is the next step. We spend between $12,000 to $16,000 sending guys away, so that cost-saving is going to be pretty substantial,” he said. PFR will not be allowed to make a profit from the facility, a stipulation of the grant.

“We can rent it out for training and cover our costs,” he said. “We will have to staff it and have safety officers there. We have several departments who would like to use the facility.”

The structure will also greatly reduce firefighters’ exposure to hazardous smoke created when burning Class A materials. A recent NIOSH (National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health) study identified that fire fighters have a nine per cent greater chance of being diagnosed with cancer, and a 14 per cent greater chance of dying from cancer than the general population.

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