Nine of Inuvik’s bravest are engaged in some serious upgrading over the holiday season, completing the physical component of a Level 1 firefighter course over the first week of December and a written component to be completed by the middle of January.
An internationally recognized certification, Practical Incident Command Evaluations is part of the National Fire Protection Association’s curriculum of professional-grade firefighter training. It is part of the 37-member strong department’s efforts to ensure all volunteer firefighters are up to the same grade of training as anywhere in the world.
“Practical exercise simulated real time response, posing various challenges and scenarios that the incident commander must address,” said chief Cynthia Hammond. “We had some very tired firefighters after that week.”
Five fire officers and four senior firefighters completed the training, which consisted of an overview of how a fire behaves and how to establish a safe and effective command during a call. Firefighters used hands on and tabletop simulations to prepare for various situations that could befall Inuvik.
With this training, the fire department will now have nine functional supervisors who can respond to a call and set up a command post instead of simply the fire chief, rapidly expanding the department’s ability to safely respond to calls.
Having hands-on experience allows firefighters to estimate the speed of a fire and how to best respond, since fires at different stages of burning will behave differently and warrant different responses.
Hammond said the fire department was committed to ensuring all of its membership have professional quality certifications, noting volunteers were also working towards a number of other certifications, including hazmat training, fire investigations and training fire different live saving apparatuses.
Hammond noted the training also helped the volunteers in their life outside of the department.
“Over the past two years, the individuals on this course have undertaken leadership roles in the fire department, in both emergency and non emergency situations,” she said. “The primary goal of this training was to empower these individuals to expand their already existing leadership capabilities. It supports non emergency functions such as training, public education, equipment maintenance and administration.”
In spite of achieving professional-grade training, Hammond stressed the department was a volunteer service, meaning all the work going into being ready for emergencies was being done on the members’ free time.
“Despite being a volunteer fire department, the membership strives to achieve professional qualifications equivalent to a full time fire service,” said Hammond. “These committed individuals give up evenings, weekends and vacation to accomplish these achievements.”