Doug Paley from Bouchie Lake Volunteer Fire Department (left) and Cariboo Regional District fire training officer Darren Charlton (right) were key organizers of a mutual aid training event. (Karen Powell photo)

Watering the seeds of cooperation for Quesnel VFDs

Fire departments combine for training exercise

The fire departments of the area got together this past weekend to learn together. They often end up at the same incidents, said Doug Paley, one of the key organizers, so training as a group, regardless of which uniform they wear, was an important step.

“This is a multi-department water relay practice,” said Paley, a captain with the Bouchie Lake Volunteer Fire Department and the incident commander for this exercise. “It’s so in the event of a fire we can work together as a team, instead of individually.”

The idea of the course was to train fire fighters on gathering water in the most efficient way possible in remote areas. The scenario was a fire at the top of a driveway with farm fields and a house in the immediate area.

The water was obtained from Milburn Lake which tanker trucks then pumped into bladders (portable pools) stationed at the scene. From the bladders, the water was pumped up the steep driveway to the imagined fire.

The object was to learn how to shorten the time required to get the water from lake to fire.

More and more, in the Quesnel area and across the Cariboo region, incidents require mutual aid. There are agreements in place whereby departments can come in support of a neighbouring community, as long as their residents still have the people and equipment on standby to look after anything that might simultaneously occur at home.

“This is the first time we’ve done something on this scale,” said Paley, who estimated 30-40 firefighters would be in attendance, and at least one but often multiple firetrucks from his Bouchie Lake department, plus those of Barlow Creek, 10 Mile Lake, Kersley, West Fraser, and Quesnel Fire Department (QFD).

QFD’s manager of training, Bart Schneider, was Paley’s shadow commander for the training exercise, and was another main organizer. The lead instructor was Darren Charlton, the regional fire services supervisor and training officer based in Williams Lake.

Paley said, “There is no flame for this exercise, just spraying water into an open field, but the purpose is to learn how to shuttle water together, so when mutual aid occurs, we all know how to make that happen smoothly together as a unit, so it’s not just the ways of your own department.”

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Quesnel Fire Department's Bart Schneider was one of the key organizers of a multi-department mutual aid training exercise learning how to shuttle water as a group. (Karen Powell photo)