Nanaimo Fire Rescue crews are debriefing from a busy week, after two major fires back to back that included a family losing their home on Townsite Road, and the worst call they can get a man losing his life in a mobile home blaze that was too hot for crews to enter.
But firefighters say with the drills and training they’re put through between those calls, they’re better able to face them head on.
Rushing into a smoke filled scene to fight a fire is what Nanaimo Fire Rescue members live to do.
“You never know what’s going to happen what you’re going to encounter,” says Capt. Bryun Ashlie of Nanaimo Fire Rescue.
But they’re gaining an advantage on the fire in their downtime from calls with intensive drills that recreate real life or death scenarios they could face out there. Using the old Madill building in Nanaimo to stage smoke filled rooms and scenarios meant to instill confidence and training they could one day need on a real life call.
“I’ve fallen through the floor and broken my leg,” says one firefighter who’s just fallen through a prop. Bringing his crew in carefully one after the other to rescue him from above.
When he’s out and safe, it’s on to the next scenario.
“We try to do the best we can of creating something that we may see in the real world. Wall collapses or falling through a floor. It really hits home,” says Capt. Ashlie.
” So the scenario is we’ve simulated is firefighters have been working inside an interior building, we’ve had a wall collapse on top of them and one is unconscious the other is still semi conscious and able to talk but he needs help getting out,” says Asst. Chief Brad Wood of Nanaimo Fire Rescue.
“We have a process we go through to eliminate dangers to keep us safe. We do some decision making as a RIT team,” says Lt. Troy Libbus of Nanaimo Fire Rescue. “So it gives firefighters the opportunity to make decisions under conditions they’ve never seen before.”
It’s not far off. The crew practicing today is the team that responded to the massive downtown Nanaimo blaze, that was pulled out of this historic block being devoured by fire bare moments before an explosion rocked it. Several firefighters spotting signs of an imminent smoke explosion and communicating the potential that saved lives just in time.
“And I was very proud of them. They identified the dangers,” says Libbus. “Reading the smoke, reading the conditions.”
“Our lives depend on each other so we help each other out we train with each other,” says Capt. Ashlie.
Preparing for the unpredictable, and facing it head on together.