Arts & Life
Canstar Community News
Members of the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service will be among the first in Canada to participate in a new fire dynamics training program, which will take place at the WFPS Training Academy on McPhillips Street this summer and fall.
The Ottawa-born, science-based program will teach firefighters to understand and assess how fire reacts to its surroundings, and vice versa. This will help them combat flames and smoke in a safer and more efficient manner, according to Russ Drohomereski, the deputy chief of WFPS professional development.
"It’s so important that they understand it," he said.
The materials used in modern-day construction burn hotter and quicker and emit smoke with higher toxicity, he explained.
Winnipeg has the most fires per capita in Canada — there were 1,845 fires in the city in 2018 — which was another reason to bring the training to the city, he added.
"We need to catch up with the science that’s actually involved with it," Drohomereski said.
WFPS members are currently completing the online components of the program and will eventually move on to the practical tasks using live fire.
Normally, service members train using a simulation similar to a video game. But this program will add "realism" to their education, such as authentic weather and atmospheric factors.
The WFPS purchased intermodal shipping containers, also known as sea cans, to assist in the live fire simulations. Last summer the service enlisted the help of welding students at Technical Vocational High School (1555 Wall St.) to modify the containers and produce parts for the training facility.
"We had to cut apart certain sea cans to make hallways and attach them to the other sea cans, because there are seven sea cans that are put together that (firefighters) use as an obstacle to get through," said welding teacher Tony Bage.
"It was a win-win for Tec Voc students and the fire department. First of all, for the fire department it kept costs down, whereas it would’ve cost them a fortune if they would’ve contracted it out to an actual welding company. And the students received an experience of a lifetime because they got to work on a major infrastructure project for the community."
Drohomereski said nearby residents do not need to be concerned if they see flames or smoke rising from the training academy space in the coming months. The WFPS will use only clean-burning wood for the program and will be cognizant of wind direction.
"The smoke is going to be similar in composition to a campfire," he said. "They shouldn’t be alarmed by that smoke."
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