Training at the Houston fire department changed from informal and undocumented to regimented, formal and documented.
Fire Lieutenant and Training Officer Chad Manahan says the old system of training had the same topics but it was done randomly and wasn’t recorded.
“We didn’t really know who did what, or who was up to date on what,” said Manahan, adding that they didn’t feel they were at the standard they wanted to be at and people were losing interest in training because it was slow and, to some, boring.
Wanting to get people interested and at a higher standard and to take some responsibility off Fire Chief Jim Daigneault, Lieutenant Manahan and Lieutenants Sheldon Slaney and Rob Lewis spearheaded the training change, getting support from the department members and then getting certified as training officers by taking a “Train the Trainer” course through the Justice Institute of B.C., Manahan said.
“It’s just a chance for some of us to get a little more involved and help out training with the other recruits too,” said Lieutenant Slaney.
They also contacted local businesses Canfor, Houston Forest Products, Pinnacle Pellet, Huckleberry Mine and Finning, to ask for $650 donations to set up a training room, get four computers and a T.V. monitor to use for the training, said Manahan, adding that they are thankful to all of those businesses, and to Terrace Rewind who heard about the program and donated as well.
Manahan says training is Thursdays 7 to 10 p.m., has eight six-week modules, and is about 40 per cent classroom training, 40 per cent hands-on and 20 per cent written and online, with topics ranging from risks to the use of equipment to safety.
When the eight modules are done, they’ll start over and go through them again so that everybody stays up to date, Manahan said.
“Training is an ongoing, never ending thing,” said Fire Chief Daigneault, adding that there are 28 members at different levels of training, eight or nine of whom haven’t taken the live fire training.
Asked what he thinks the new training will do, Daigneault says it will make the Houston Fire Department much safer, with less risk of people getting hurt, and it will make them more efficient.
“When you’re on the fire ground, and if everybody’s trained, things go a whole lot smoother,” he said, adding that it will help firefighters know the risks and be the safest that they can be in any given incident.
“It’s going to help the volunteers have a higher standard of training, more formal, documented training, and in turn going to help the community with a better fire department,” Manahan said.
Anyone interested in volunteering at the Houston Fire Department can pick up an application at the Houston Fire Department or the District of Houston office, or contact Fire Chief Jim Daigneault at 250-845-2250.