New training for firefighters

TRAINING: Live fire training informs firefighters how to battle fires in a structural environment.
TRAINING: Live fire training informs firefighters how to battle fires in a structural environment.

Firefighters from the Whyalla Metropolitan Fire Services will be fine tuning their structural firefighting skills following the development of a new mobile training scenario.

Instructors from the MFS in Adelaide are delivering the live fire training to up to 260 retained firefighters from all 16 regional MFS stations.

A new $66,000 firefighting training scenario is being transported around the State for the training. Comprised of two specially modified shipping containers, it provides a live building fire scenario, allowing firefighters to:

  • Witness live fire development and behaviour within a room
  • Practise techniques to safely enter a burning room
  • Recognise fire behaviour and the potential for changing conditions
  • React to fire behaviour, including practising how to retreat safely when necessary.

Minister for Emergency Services Peter Malinauskas said an understanding of a ‘big event’ which could occur at the Whyalla Steelworks would be fundamental for local firefighters.

“The training will be useful in providing experience not previously available. Previously firefighters were only able to learn about these scenarios on a theory basis,” he said.

“This investment provides bang for buck in regional towns.”

MFS Chief Officer Greg Crossman said the exercise would specifically focus on the behavior of fires within a structural area.

“The feedback we’re getting from participants in this program is that the penny is dropping, they’re seeing how fires can be dealt with using different spray techniques,” he said.

“The learning has been considerable and that’s what is driving this forward.”

As part of the live building fire scenario, a small fire is lit within the shipping container. The MFS can then manage the intensity of the fire and demonstrate fire development.

“Then we move on to techniques the crew can use to remain safe and efficently tackle that fire. That’s the main essence of the training,” MFS Chief Station Officer Stuart Helmore said.

“Internal attack is the highest risk environment, so we give the firefighters more information to make important decisions quickly. Overall they’re better informed for their decisions,” he said.

Retained MFS firefighters who’ve recently undertaken the training say that the live fire component is assisting the way they battle house, business and other structure fires.

Training for firefighters at the Whyalla MFS will take place between March 20 and 22 next year.