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

Wet your whistle at the Fraser Valley Distillery Festival

Chilliwack Academy of Music’s annual event is back at the Chilliwack Cultural Centre

UFV Cascades baseball coach joins Los Angeles Dodger organization

Former Chicago Cub farmhand Wes Darvill is back in affiliated baseball.

Chilliwack teachers vote for non-confidence in school board

Lack of action following trustee’s comments has created unsafe workplace, they claim

Handful of Chilliwack water main breaks reported this winter

None were catastrophic but it meant crews had to dig down and clamp the problem pipe

Heritage Chilliwack launches new grant for heritage home owners

The grant of up to $500 is for Chilliwack home owners applying for heritage designation

B.C. cougar kitten rescued after mother struck by vehicle

Conservation Officers find home for young kitten found dehydrated and frostbitten near Williams Lake

B.C. VIEWS: Public school ‘crisis’ doesn’t exist

More teachers pour in, union wants results suppressed

Input sought for major road works for Maple Ridge

Consultation on Haney Bypass upgrades

Pitt councillors don’t support CP Rail underpass

Gateway projects will need city support says MP Ruimy

Suspected Toronto serial killer targeting gay community arrested

A 66-year-old man is charged with first-degree murder in disappearance of two Toronto men

Carpet bowlers have been excluded from BC 55+ Games and Canada 55+ Games

Gold medal carpet bowling winners not able to defend their titles in 2018

No crackdown, just education as BC Ferries’ enacts smoking ban

Fines and extra patrols not happening at this time as ban begins Monday

UPDATE: Police release new footage, launch website in hunt for 13-year-old’s killer

IHIT say no one has been arrested or charged in connection with Marrisa Shen’s death

Rural B.C. students score visit with Canadiens netminder Carey Price

Two students from the Chilcotin can hardly wait to meet hometown hero Carey Price in Montreal.

Most Read