Firefighters in the training from across B.C. fought a live fire on Sunday. (Penticton Fire Department photo)

Real-world experience in interface firefighting in the Okanagan

Fire chief Larry Watkinson says real-world training was an “incredible experience”

It was a busy weekend of wildfire training with sprinkler systems going off, wildfires igniting and aircraft and fire trucks zooming over and around Penticton.

Fire chief Larry Watkinson called the second annual Wildland Urban Interface Wildfire Training Symposium “incredible,” because of the real-world experience firefighters had.

On Saturday, they participated in classes looking at structure protection, leadership skills in a wildland environment, tactics and boots-on-the-ground training.

Exercises involving live fires and air support all happened Sunday so firefighters could experience what it was like to fight a real fire to prepare for wildfire season.

READ MORE: Expect to see wildfire smoke, helicopters and fire trucks in the Penticton area this weekend

Residents in Campbell Mountain, Sendero Canyon and West Bench got to experience some of the training, said Watkinson. Sprinkler systems were set up around several homes in the sprinkler protection class.

“It basically creates a humidity bubble around the home so when a fire comes to it, it flattens down to the ground and sprinklers protect the house. That’s the whole theory behind it,” he said, adding that fighting wildfires is much different from fighting a standard house fire.

“We have to employ new strategies and tactics to teach so when a Vancouver firefighter comes up from the lower mainland, who has maybe never been in a wildfire before, has an understanding of how to deal with and mitigate and set up protections for those homes.”

Clear and accurate communication is vitally important when fighting wildfires, Watkinson added.

More than 200 firefighters from 26 different municipalities learned this in exercises involving aircraft dropping buckets of water on hot spots ignited in the forest.

READ MORE: Penticton to host wildfire training symposium

“We’d have to have communications between the air officer and the firefighters on the ground so that nobody got a bunch of water dumped on them, and got injured doing that,” he said.

“There is a lot of training as it relates to the communications on how air crafts work with firefighters on the ground when you are actually containing a fire.”

It’s an intense weekend of training, he added.

“It’s very structured, and highly disciplined because people are training in context and it is the real world,” he said. “If you goof around, you could lose a fire, and it could get bad really fast.”

But despite the potential for things to go south, Watkinson said the two-day training symposium, “Went off without a hitch.”

READ MORE: UPDATE: Tire pile and campers ablaze at Penticton Speedway

“We believe it’s important to train this way,” Watkinson said. “We had great participation from all the different agencies. We had people from all over the province so it was great to showcase Penticton.”

To report a typo, email: editor@pentictonwesternnews.com.


Robin Grand
Reporter, Penticton Western News
Email me or follow me on Twitter
Follow us on Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

 

Live-fire training took place in the neighbourhoods of Campbell Mountain, Sendero Canyon and West Bench. (Penticton Fire Department photo)

More than 200 firefighters from 26 different municipalities participated. (Penticton Fire Department photo)

Firefighters put out a live fire on Campbell Mountain. (Penticton Fire Department photo)

Just Posted

EDITORIAL: The best or the least worst

Negative messaging abandons the quest for the best and instead asks voters to choose the least worst

COLUMN: Much to enjoy at Ryga Arts Festival

As I learn about George Ryga and his contributions, it is clear why this festival carries his name

Art and music at Summerland Ornamental Gardens

Second event of the summer will be held Sunday, Aug. 25

New Penticton/Kelowna transit route ready to roll out

Route 70 Penticton/Kelowna will provide a direct trip to Kelowna from Penticton and Summerland

South Okanagan powwow strikes a chord on the human level for federal minister

Canada’s Minister of Indigenous Services Seamus O’Regan was the special guest at powwow

VIDEO: Facebook rolls out tool to block off-Facebook data gathering

CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the “clear history” feature more than a year ago

66% of B.C. residents want opt-out system for organ donation: poll

Support was lowest in Ontario and the Atlantic provinces

Spark Joy: Declutter and organize your home forever

Barb and Wendy at Simply Spark Joy help you to create a clutter free home on the Black Press Media

B.C. rainbow crosswalk covered in mysterious black substance

Black substance spilled intentionally near Vancouver Island school and difficult to remove

Okanagan-Shuswap weather: Partially cloudy with a chance of thunderstorms

Across the Okanagan, weather is not expected to break 30 C

One pet unaccounted for after early morning Kelowna house fire

A Lakeshore Road home caught fire before 3:30 a.m. Wednesday morning

Coming home: Okanagan softball star returns after career-changing injury

Shayla Tyerman joins UBC Okanagan in their inaugural season in the WCSA

RCMP originally planned to arrest Meng Wanzhou on plane, defence lawyers say

The allegations have not been proven in court. Meng was arrested Dec. 1 at Vancouver airport at the behest of the U.S.

Bodies of two missing Surrey men found near Ashcroft

Ryan Provencher and Richard Scurr have been missing since July 17

Most Read