May 24th, 2024

Fire recruits put through the paces in training sessions

By Alejandra Pulido-Guzman - Lethbridge Herald on May 10, 2024.

Herald photo by Alejandra Pulido-Guzman Captain Sean Larkin supervises a recruit learning how to break through a wall to get out of a room with no windows, during a training exercise on Thursday at the Fire Station No. 4 training centre.


Lethbridge Fire and Emergency Services’ newest recruits had the opportunity to learn how to dive out of a window safely and break through walls to get out of a room with no windows during a training exercise Thursday morning.

Captain Sean Larkin spoke prior to the training exercises and said they were very important techniques to learn because 80 per cent of the time when firefighters are inside a burning building, it is up to them to get themselves out if something goes wrong.

“We’ve been teaching them over the last couple weeks how to save victims from a burning building, how to put out fire and control where the fire’s going in the building. Today it’s all about their own safety,” said Larkin.

He explained the training consisted of two techniques, a window hanging technique and how to break go through a wall to find a way out.

“If we are in a building that’s too hot and we need to get out quickly, it’s a way to dive out of window without falling all the way to the ground, because the landing is the hard part,” said Larkin.

 He said they learn this so they can get out of a window into the cooler air on the outside.

 “As well as if we’re in a room where there is no window and we’re not able to get through, we’re teaching them how to break through the wall, squeeze between the stocks into another room that might be a little bit safer and might have a window where they can find a way out,” said Larkin.

He said this current recruit class consists of seven students, with five of them being advanced care paramedics and the other two being primary care paramedics.

The training is 12 weeks long with a focus on firefighting for 10 weeks and EMS for the other two weeks, to supplement their previous training.

“The training that they get is pretty intensive, so in a lot of the time there’s a lot of information to go over,” said Larkin.

Dorothy Graham, a new recruit, echoed the intensity of the training by saying that at the end of the day she is full of knowledge, sore and tired but it has been a great experience so far four weeks in.

“It’s a dream come true. It’s so fun and it’s engaging and challenging. It’s really wonderful,” said Graham.

She said she has dreamed of becoming a firefighter since she was five years old, among other goals that came along the way while growing up.

Born and raised in Lethbridge she knew it was here when she wanted to pursued her dream, so after attending post secondary school in Medicine Hat to obtain her advanced care paramedic and primary care paramedic education, she returned to Lethbridge and began her journey.

“The goal for me was always to come back to Lethbridge, which meant extensively training both my EMS and physical strength to build up to that fireside, so I’m really glad to be here,” said Graham.

When asked about her favourite part of the training, she said so far she is enjoying learning new things about the science of fire and the different applications of the knowledge she’s gaining. She compared the training portion to a Sudoku puzzle.

“The parts are sort of the same, but they all interplay differently each time, and we might have to do different things to solve the same problem every time that we encounter it,” said Graham.

She explained that even though they learn a technique, the next time they use it they need to figure out a way to adapt to a different situation, like removing one piece of the equation and still be able to find a solution.

 “We’ve trained it this way, but what if you’re not able to do X this time? You have to anticipate Y or whatever. So, there’s always a little bit of changing and trying to think on your toes, but still building that muscle memory for when things kind of go sideways,” said Graham.

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