Getting hands-on training is a challenge within smaller communities, and Weyburn's Fire Chief Trent Lee is working on a proposal for the City for a new firefighter training facility.
"Fire service is really difficult and very expensive," he said. "All of our tools, all of our equipment, as with everything nowadays, has gone up in initial purchase price and maintenance costs. And it's very difficult for all the departments to gain access to all the different types of equipment we have."
He said having the facilities here to provide this training locally, and even having departments come from further away, "would be a great addition to their level of training, their skill levels as well as the instructors here getting more confident with their instruction and their skills and advancing their career."
"If we had the right facilities, we could invite fire departments in, they could spend the weekend here, which would be a great economic impact for local businesses because everyone has to eat and everybody needs to sleep. If they bring their families along and make it a little mini vacation, you know it would be fantastic for the local economy as well."
Lee said with Weyburn being a smaller city, we have the opportunity to bring in trainees since we don't experience the significant call volume as larger centres like Saskatoon and Regina.
"So it's an excellent opportunity for us here in Weyburn," he said, noting he has already had discussions with Weyburn City Council last year.
"They would like me to move forward with the proposal and supply them with more information on this type of facility and all that it would be used for. We will provide Council with more information and let them take the information and do their own type of research on this and how beneficial it would be for the firefighters."
He said in order to open such a facility, they'd still need to invest in a greater variety of different equipment and props. For example, it's not currently possible to practice fire rescues from a four-story building, but Weyburn does actually have buildings that tall.
"We need to practice on the type of facilities and the type of incidents that we're going to encounter," Lee said. "Not all fires start on the first floor of a one floor building. So we need to get our firefighters competent and gain their skills and knowledge and using ladders and the ladder, truck and ventilation, as well as the different challenges that are created with different heights of the of buildings."
He said this is because once you start going up in height, you start encountering the fear of heights.
"Getting comfortable with your equipment [at heights], or you could have wind-driven fires because once you get up to that three or four stories, you're not surrounded by vegetation on all the other properties in the area, and the windows play a big effect on how that fire reacts and behaves," he explained.
Lee elaborated, "one thing with firefighting is it's very difficult to get hands-on training, and to send the firefighter into a building with very little background training, it's complicated. It's difficult. If we look at all the other types of employment and career opportunities that are out there like plumbers, they spend time, they learn the job inside and out, they spend years going back and forth to school to get their red seal to be that competent person doing their job."
"With firefighting, we just give firefighters a basic introduction, and we kicked them out into the field and we we don't treat them properly and give them all the training that's required, because there are thousands of different scenarios, and no two fires are the same and we need to prepare them for any scenario that could come up," he added.
Lee said it's not just firefighting, either.
"I know we're called a fire department, but we're all-hazards response," he said. "If somebody's in trouble, it doesn't matter the scenario: you call 911 and the Fire department's going to respond to assist and try to take care of that situation."
The Weyburn Fire Department held a successful training event over the weekend. Read more HERE.