Firefighting training instructor Kelly Hatfull, left, and Chilliwack Fire Capt. Trevor Kirkpatrick talk to Canadian military reservists, who are training before being deployed to fight wildfires in B.C. (Jennifer Feinberg/ The Progress)

Canadian military personnel learn to fight fires in Chilliwack

Reservists learn to keep safe on the fire line before heading to the Interior

About 200 reservists from the Canadian Armed Forces are completing a two-day firefighting course this week in Chilliwack before being deployed to fight wildfires.

The military personnel are being trained how to fight wildfires safely by Kelly Hatfull, a register professional forester and training consultant, who is guiding them through the S-100 basic fire suppression certification.

“They’re here to learn how to fight fire because we are counting on the military, the reserves, to come out and help us in the Interior of British Columbia with the fire situation,” Hatfull said.

The course is all about safety first, and making them aware of the hazards they’ll face on the fire line.

“Everything’s a hazard really, the fire, the smoke, the changing weather, rolling debris,” Hatfull said.

Danger trees, and beetle-kill trees can also put lives at risk, so the training is geared to bringing everyone home safely.

RCMP “are burning out” and the province is bringing firefighters in from around the world to battle the numerous wildfires.

But the reservists, from bases across B.C., bring something unique to the table.

“What we have in the reservists here is a great resource,” Hatfull said. “Firefighting is a paramilitary operation, these guys are reservists so they understand incident command systems.

“What we want to do is make sure they can get on the fire line, and support our firefighters and support our RCMP and security. So the military’s really important role here is to support all the other resources that are out on the fires now.”

Chilliwack Fire Department’s new training facility on Wolfe Road is the location of the specialized training sessions that will be ongoing over the weekend, said Andy Brown, assistant fire chief of training. Some of their highly experienced personnel are also helping with the courses, and some have been deployed to the wildfire zones.

So far 95 members of the Canadian Armed Forces have been trained in Chilliwack and deployed to the wildfire zones. Another two courses are set for this weekend, said Brown, and by the end of the weekend, 200 military personnel will have cycled through the training.

“It’s a really exciting opportunity for us to be able help British Columbia during this time,” said Brown.

Chilliwack Fire, in conjunction with City of Chilliwack, offered the 4.5-acre training site when they got the request from military officials and BC Wildfire Service. They were happy to share their new facilities, equipment and other resources, despite the fact that the entire base is not completely built yet.

“This is great,” said Hatfull. “What really Chilliwack is doing here is supporting our communities in B.C. by giving us the ability to train our military personnel and get them up to the Interior.”

It’s the only facility in the Lower Mainland that could accommodate this training, so they feel “blessed” and lucky, and thankful to Chilliwack Fire Department and City of Chilliwack for making it happen.


 

@chwkjourno
jfeinberg@theprogress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Chilliwack-Hope MP gives a pre-Christmas ribbing in rhyme in Parliament

Conservative Mark Strahl gets his poem in before Liberal Rodger Cuzner rises to do same

#MeToo at work: B.C. women share horrifyingly common sexual assaults

It happens to more people than you might think and impacts women inside and outside of the workplace

Man accused of shooting at border agents loses final bid to appeal extradition order

Nathan Hall was arrested in Abbotsford following cross-border manhunt in 2013

Frustrated federal workers rally against Phoenix again at Chilliwack MP’s office

Strahl backs workers even sponsoring a petition to government to scrap the troubled payroll system

VIDEO: JRfm’s Holiday Fun Day sets up shop again at Langley Events Centre

Great music accompanies family fun as JRfm raises diapers and donations for Basics for Babies.

VIDEO: Average Canadian food bill to rise by $348 in 2018

Atlantic Canada and B.C. will see the most increases for consumers

Debt-to-household-income ratio rises in third quarter

Total household credit market debt grew to $2.11 trillion in the third quarter

B.C. Mountie told to resign after texting teenage sex assault victim

RCMP documents say Const. Brian Eden sent sexually inappropriate photos to 17-year-old girl

Family doctors should learn to treat addiction, not shun patients: scientist

B.C. Centre on Substance Use’s Dr. Evan Wood said efforts underway to change addiction medicine image

Update: Small fire near Maple Ridge tent city

Occurred outside camp Wednesday night

Four dog deaths investigated in Cranbrook

One vet suggests a parallel to these deaths and similar ones in 2016

Meningococcal disease outbreak declared in Okanagan

Five cases in last six months among 15- to 19-year-olds, including one in Vernon

Military life gives way to chance as author

Retired Chilliwack officer pens book about life in Afghanistan

Province rejects Ajax mine in Kamloops

KGHM Ajax had proposed a 1,700-hectare open-pit copper and gold mine, just southwest of Kamloops

Most Read