KVFD holds SCBA “realistic” training exercise

Members of the Kamsack Volunteer Fire Department (KVFD) were at an abandoned residence on Third Street recently to participate in a training exercise.

The training exercise was held to familiarize the newest members of the KVFD with the SCBA (self-contained breathing apparatus) procedures.

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“We like to make the practice as realistic as possible, and treat it as though it is an actual emergency,” said Ken Thompson, KVFD fire chief. “The practise is good for everyone, even seasoned fire department members.”

There were seven members participating in the exercise, including one cadet, Jordan Green, who trains with the group but does not participate in actual firefighting calls.

The group was utilizing an abandoned house which will eventually be torn down, and therefore is available for training purposes.

Kristin Johnson, KVFD’s newest lieutenant, was acting as scene commander during the exercise. As the trainees executed a thorough search of the “smoke-filled residence,” an effect achieved by having their facemasks blacked out to impair their vision, they crawled systemically from room to room, using their axes to mark the areas which were searched.

Johnson, along with Thompson and Bruce Thomsen, assistant fire chief, watched their progress and voiced encouragement and instructions.

“A PASS (Personal Alert Safety System) device is built into the SCBA, and if the firefighter fails to move for 30 seconds an loud audible alert will sound and rescue personnel are sent in to locate the firefighter,” Thompson explained. “Also, if the firefighter’s tank runs out of air, a vibration signal is activated and the individual is instructed to follow their hose out the door.

During the training exercise, the members engaged in a self-extrication exercise, where they were required to punch a hole through a wall to crawl from one room to the next.

“In a real fire emergency, SaskPower and SaskEnergy are immediately alerted to turn off the utilities as protection for firefighters entering the building,” Thompson said.

The SCBA has become an essential piece of a firefighter's personal protective equipment and, quite possibly, the single most beneficial piece of safety equipment used by the fire service, said information found on the Internet. This fundamental piece of respiratory protection has proved its usefulness. In addition to the SCBA's use in structural firefighting, it plays an important role in confined space, technical rescue, and hazardous-materials incidents.