The new Burns Lake fire training facility held its grand opening on May 27, with simulated firefighting exercises and a barbecue.
Located north of the village and just off Babine Lake Rd, the two-story structure is owned by the Burns Lake Fire Training Society (BLFTS), which also owns the land.
“It’s used for practicing all of the skills that we need in order to fight a structural fire,” Burns Lake Fire Chief Rob Krause told Lakes District News. “It’s capable of doing live fire evolution so we can light a fire inside the building, let it build up heat and smoke and we can send crews in to actually battle a fire inside the structure to simulate what we can see in a house fire.”
Once a fire is lit inside the container on the steel burn pan and with paper and wood pallets, temperatures can go as high as 800C.
The facility was built so that local firefighters can train in Burns Lake without incurring the time and financial costs of being sent out of town for training.
“All of my firefighters are volunteers so to send them out of town to do this kind of training – first of all they have to get permission from their employer and then they have to take time off of work. There’s the cost of sending them somewhere. I sent two people up to Peace River to a similar facility to this one for a four-day course. It cost me $6,000,” Krause explained.
“There’s three training levels in B.C. We train to the highest level which is full service. Everything up to full service can be done in this facility. There’s only one specialty that we still will have to send out for – hazmat. This facility isn’t capable of doing that.”
The structure isn’t used for training during the winter because very low temperatures outside, combined with the burning temperatures inside can crack the concrete, which lines the interior of the container.
Firefighters can also use the dirt field around the structure to simulate automobile accident situations involving people trapped inside vehicles.
“We can practice rope rescue and retrieval,” Krause said.
For one of the demonstrations, and using a smoke machine, Burns Lake firefighters showed how to circulate fresh air into a smoke-filled room by spraying water.
If only one door is opened, smoke tends to go out and then get sucked back in, as volunteer firefighter captain Brian Brinkhurst said.
“As we’re spraying it pushed smoke from inside the building out so when the door opened it’s replaced with fresh air.”
The firefighters also performed rescues from the second-floor window with a ladder and ropes.
The total cost of the construction and site preparation for the facility came to about $135,000 which was sourced with grants from the Burns Lake Community Forest, the Nechako-Kitamaat Development Fund, Coastal Gas Link, the Village of Burns Lake, and others.
At the end of the event, Burns Lake village councillor Henry Wiebe presented Brinkhurst with the 2019 Community Leadership Award for Social Responsibility.
Brinkhurst, as Krause explained has for several years been the key mover behind the facility project he helped raise more than $118,000 towards it.