In Pictures: Firefighting demands rigorous training every week

By David F. Rooney

Wednesday evenings are training days for the city’s volunteer and full-time professional firefighters. Some weeks it may be something like training with a ladder, other weeks it may be working with a high-pressure hose. One week last month it was a simulated rescue that Fire Chief Rob Girard thought might be of interest to The Revelstoke Current and its readers.

Weekly training is like the expensive equipment the department maintains: it’s insurance against the unthinkable, a fire that threatens or even takes lives. Our community’s firefighters work hard to keep their skill levels high. We hope they don’t have to exercise them very often but when they are called out we all want them to as professional and as skilled as possible.

These photos clearly show their dedication and skill. I hope you enjoy them.

Firefighters listen as Chief Rob Girard outlines the challenge in one of their weekly exercises: rescue a man overcome by smoke in the Century Vallens Building. Volunteer and professional fire department personnel conduct regular exercises to maintain their skill levels. David F. Rooney photo
It's not very far from the Fire Hall to the Century Vallens building — not even 50 metres — but if you're a fire fighter you still need your truck and all of its equipment. David F. Rooney photo
Once on site, Revelstoke's finest set about their tasks. David F. Rooney photo
Firefighters drag a hose from the truck to the nearest hydrant. The man on the far right is a potential volunteer firefighter observing the exercise. David F. Rooney photo
Firefighters Louie Fuscaldo (left) and Jeff Pont check each other's masks and breathing gear before venturing into the 'smoke-filled' building. It may be just an exercise, but attention to detail can save lives. David F. Rooney photo
Firefighter Louie Fuscaldo checks the filter on his mask as his partner during this exercise, Jeff Pont, looks on. David F. Rooney photo
Fuscaldo and Pont are in position to enter the smoke-filled building and await instructions over their two-way radios. David F. Rooney photo
With a hose slung over his shoulder, Pont looks ready to go. David F. Rooney photo
Firefighters Jeff Pont (right) and Louie Fuscaldo enter the building as Wade Gillespie holds the door. Both men crouch so that they are beneath the smoke that would be billowing out the door if this was a real situation. David F. Rooney photo
Firefighter Steve Olsson hauls on a hose as his colleagues set about their tasks behind him. David F. Rooney photo
Hose connections, dials, levers and switches gleam under the light. David F. Rooney photo
An axe leans against a wall of the building. David F. Rooney photo
Uh, oh. There's trouble in the building when Jeff Pont suffers 'a heart attack.' Firefighters Steve Olsson and David Mohn drag him from the building. David F. Rooney photo
Pont is laid on the ground. David F. Rooney photo
The simulated event complicates the recovery effort which proceeds as soon as Pont is dragged to safety. David F. Rooney photo
With Pont now safe, David Mohn and Stephanie Thurston enter the building to help Fuscaldo retrieve the smoke-inhalation victim. David F. Rooney photo
And here's the smoke victim — a life-size training dummy. David F. Rooney photo
Dragging this guy anywhere is like manhandling any unconscious human — a workout. David F. Rooney photo
Chief Girard talks with a firefighter after the exercise. You never know what may happen at the scene of a fire, he said. And while it has been a very long time since anyone was seriously injured or killed at a fire in Revelstoke, the department's 40 full-time professional and volunteer firefighters work hard to maintain the skills they need to be prepared for the situation that might one day demand they actually do rescue someone from a burning building. David F. Rooney photo