Firefighters are conditioned to reach for the water as soon as they arrive on scene. It makes sense, doesn’t it? Put water on the fire and it goes away. 5 of us went to a course last weekend where the instructor made a pretty convincing case that the ventilation fan should be the first thing off of the truck. The Comox Valley Chiefs Association brought in the guru of a technique that is quickly taking hold called “positive pressure attack”. Kriss Garcia has been championing, honing, and researching PPA for over 20 years now.
The idea goes like this. Fire is predictable and can be extinguished. Smoke, on the other hand, will obscure any visibility, will kill occupants, and can explode if conditions are right. If you can create an exhaust hole, and turn on a large fan at the front door you can clear the smoke and reduce the temperature in the building in just a few seconds. Firefighters can then enter a building and search for occupants and the fire by walking through the building instead of crawling.
Kriss has disproven many myths put forward by people wary of PPA. He has shown that blowing the smoke and heat through the building will not advance the fire. Firefighters that are caught between the fire and the exhaust hole feel no increase in heat. Positive pressure will not blow fire into electrical outlets or holes in the wall.
We’re very excited to try out this new technique in our upcoming practices. Its not everyday that you learn something that turns a whole industry’s methodology on its head.
Like most aspects of life, the training is never complete in the fire service. The last few weeks have been particularly packed with our members upgrading their skills.
Al Cannon went to Maple Ridge for a 4 day rescue basics course. Although Al is fully competent in rope rescue and auto extrication, this course is the prerequisite for all other advanced rescue courses like confined space rescue.
We sent Duncan MacCaskill and Sasha LeBaron to Abbottsford to take part in a training officers conference where they also did a 2 day low angle auto extrication course. These skills would come into play if a car went off of and of the many steep embankments that we have around here. They also took a drills development course to improve our weekly practices.
Doug Chinnery and Giff LaRose also went to Abbottsford where they joined Duncan and Sasha for a 2 day course in leadership for the fire service. This course teaches leadership and communication skills tweaked for the fire service.
Julian Laffin and Mike Nordmann did a 1 day course in Comox where they got the basics of emergency scene management. This will enable them to take command of a scene if they are the first arriving officers.
Patrick Lui continues his rookie training in hopes that by fall he will have completed his basic firefighter training and will become a full member of the group.
Training is the biggest part of what we do. Every week we train in house, and several times a year our members get send off island for more in depth training. We’re proud of our training record and the quality of skills and knowledge held in our small department.
Last Thursday evening’s practice was a beauty. Sasha organized Eban and his backhoe to set up a car in the gravel pit. They put our rescue dummy into the driver’s seat, flipped the car upside down on a hill, and pushed it down until the roof caved in.
When we arrived on scene, incident command assigned an extrication team and a medical team. The extrication team got to work immediately on getting the car cribbed up and stabilized, making it safe to work around. The medical team was able to get into the car 7 minutes later to begin work on our patient. While they were dealing with Rescue Randy’s injuries, the extrication team was removing the doors on the car in order to get the patient out.
Our patient was fully extricated on a backboard and into the back of the ambulance in under 50 minutes. Thanks to Sasha for organizing this involved exercise.