The Estevan and Weyburn Fire Departments don't always get together to train, but when they do...they learn and exchange valuable knowledge and experience in a variety of areas.
Twas the case Tuesday night, as members of both units came together in Estevan to conduct a few vehicle extrication scenarios, and learn from each other's methods and tools.
However, before the guys and gals donned the gear of their profession, the visitors had a gift for their hosts.
"Our brothers and sisters in the Weyburn Fire Department and the Weyburn Fire Fighters Association wanted to make a presentation on behalf of the WFFA to the Estevan Fire Fighters' Association, a gift to commemorate the opening of the new fire station," explained Fire Chief Dale Feser.
"They presented us a very beautiful plaque with the Estevan Fire Department logo and our mission statement on it, with a beautiful background with firefighters."
The training then commenced, which involved simulated car wrecks and various scenarios to solve.
"With the Weyburn Fire Department being here, they had some newer and updated extrication tool technology. They are using rechargeable batteries, whereas we are still using conventional hydraulic rescue and extrication tools. We thought it'd be a pretty good training scenario, where we could set up a couple cars and then both fire departments can switch around and use the different tools and see the pros and cons," Feser shared.
The crews worked through procedures that involved the removal of all four doors, windshield and side glass removal, and roof removal. They also conducted drills involving a 'dash roll', a scenario where a crash victim may find themselves pinned under the steering wheel and assembly or dashboard.
"One of the pros for those tools (battery operated extrication devices) is that they are a little more accessible. You just have a battery, you don't have a bunch of hydraulic cables, cords and hoses hanging off it. The downside to them is that, when it's chilly, it's like any other rechargeable battery, you can only get approximately 15 minutes of work time out of them. Our conventional tools run off a hydraulic pump and we have an indefinite work time on that, it doesn't seem to be as susceptible to cold weather environments," said Feser.
"Both sets of tools have merit. We were more interested in seeing what the differences were in the cutting forces of the tips of the sheer as well as the extension rams and the spreaders, which are conventionally called the Jaws of Life."
He added that, currently, they will be sticking with their present equipment as there is no provision in the budget to upgrade their tools. However, with the advancement of stronger materials in vehicle construction, the Chief noted that an upgrade will be neccesary in the next couple years, though there are always ways to work with the equipment they have on scene.
While the two departments aren't frequent partners on such training days, Feser hopes that will change in the future.
"We look forward and cherish working with our fellow firefighters right across the southern portion of the province. I definitely see a lot more inter-agency training between the two cities here in the near future, as we start looking at some of the specialty courses where we have to bring in instructors. There's no reason why two cities can't benefit from that and share the cost, rather than the cost being the sole burden of one city."