Don’t be alarmed if you see smoke rising from the vicinity of The Aweres Fire Hall grounds. Driving north on Hwy 11/17 at Heyden, there are dozens of volunteer firefighters from across the Algoma District taking part in serious Ontario Fire College training. Saultonline caught up with former Aweres Fire Chief and extraordinarily active firefighter David McMinn at the Aweres Fire Hall this morning, Friday, Sept.22, 2017. Iris McMinn, who retired from the Sault Ste. Marie Fire Department, is also very active as a volunteer with Aweres Fire.
McMinn shared that all weekend long, The Ontario Fire College – which is part of the Office of the Ontario Fire Marshall (Ministry of Community Safety & Correctional Services) is facilitating a rural firefighting course at The Aweres Fire Hall, Heyden, Ontario. The Volunteer Fire & Rescue Hall is located just off of the Searchmont turn-off Hwy 17 N. at Hwy. 556.
In operation since 1949, the Ontario Fire College’s primary responsibility is to develop and deliver academically sound educational/training programs to meet the needs of both today’s and tomorrow’s fire service. The main objective of the Ontario Fire College programs and courses is to assist our student-learners to become the best-trained and most professional members of the Ontario fire service. We offer training and education programs which are based on the Ontario Fire Service Standards. Our courses are available to members of any Ontario municipal fire department, whether full-time or volunteer.
Tim Beebe, former Fire Chief in Upsula, Ontario, works out of the Thunder Bay Ontario Fire College office. “My area covers from Manitoba to Quebec.” he said. “Rural fire fighters have been planning the logistics around this course for 6 – 8 months. There are 7 departments represented here today. Wawa, Blind River, Huron Shores, Aweres, Goulais and Prince Township. The whole Algoma region is captured here and all the fire fighter students are volunteers.”
Andrew Blair, Gravenhurst campus of Ontario Fire College (OFC) also spoke with Saultonlne.
“This is the largest class we’ve had in this course – We’ve never run it here before.” shared Blair. “It’s a new course we (OFC) started last year.” shared Blair. “The last time I did any training here (Sault area) was six years ago. There is a lot of behind the scenes work that went into the planning of this training.”
“The fire fighters are checking out the equipment right now – Ladder work will take place as well later this afternoon.” Blair stated that the training includes firefighter survival, entanglement, and more. “Live fire exercises will take place on Sunday.”
“The commitment is huge to do this.” said Beebe. “There was significant pre-work that had to be completed before the training could take place. Each of the students had to do a three day training session and 60-80 hours of individualized training on their own. The Fire Chiefs as well – we rely heavily on a partnership with the Fire Chiefs. It’s labour intensive all the way around.”
Saultonline will get back up to Aweres Fire Hall this weekend, and share more training exercises as the weekend continues. Thank you to all of the rural volunteer Firefighters who are undertaking the training and who make a commitment to learning and engaging in best practices