This is what a typical mobile fire unit looks like. Courtesy Photo

CHESTERVILLE – Firefighters throughout North Dundas will have a great opportunity in a few weeks to take their training to a higher level.

Training for firefighters never ends. Firefighters have to be prepared for anything and everything from car accidents, house fires and unexpected calls for their service.

Getting the right training has always been a challenge for all rural fire departments.

Coming April 19 to the Chesterville Arena parking lot is one of three mobile live fire-training units.

The mobile units will be in place for firefighters from across North Dundas to come and train right up to April 24. Chesterville fire chief Mike Gruich went before the North Dundas council at their April 5 meeting to ask them to approve the closing of the parking lot at the arena for the North Dundas Fire Services’ training.

He explained, “Since the Ontario Fire Marshal closed the Fire College in Gravenhurst last year, they have purchased three mobile live fire training units (MLFTU) and are making them available to fire departments in Ontario for training. North Dundas Fire Services applied for a unit and was successful. The arena parking lot in Chesterville along with the Fire Hall and hydrants’ locations met the requirements needed to be successful.

A press release from the solicitor general stated: “Ontario is launching the first of two new Mobile Live Fire Training Units to help support fire services’ firefighter training needs. The new mobile training units is part of the province’s plan to expand and modernize access to firefighting training, [it] will bring additional high-quality, hands-on training directly to fire services in all regions of the province.” The mobile units allow firefighters to do their training in their own community.

Gruich said, “The unit is being delivered tentatively on April 16. It starts on the 19th and each station will have an evening to themselves so that they can practice what they want in there. On Saturday we will be practicing for a large fire or response that would take all four stations and that is just to go through coordinating all four stations.”

Gruich said they put their application to get a unit early along with a number of stations in SD&G. Because of the number of stations that can make good use of the training opportunity, they will get to keep it for a month throughout the county.

“So we are really getting the first kick of the can with this. I think Wolf Island is first and then it comes to us.” he said.

The arrival of the unit means that local firefighters do not have to go to Ottawa for training time.

“We will get more training time on a unit right here. We are very excited about this.”

“The units which are 16m long, and are designed to operate across the province, including at Regional Training Centres and local fire departments. The first unit, launched in Bradford, is available immediately to fire services in southern and central Ontario. The second unit, [which was] expected to be completed by December 2021, will be available to fire services in Northern Ontario in early 2022.”

Gruich said, “When we are done with it, it will go out to Western Ontario.

The mobile training units give firefighters an opportunity to come as close to the real thing as possible. The press release said, “As part of the training offered via the mobile training units, firefighters will experience real flames, extreme heat, high humidity, severely restricted visibility, and thick smoke during their real-world training. The fire simulation firefighter training meets the job performance requirements outlined in the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) training standards.”

Ontario fire marshal Jon Pegg, said, “The new Mobile Live Fire Training Units simulate real situations involving fire – which forms an important part of firefighter training and complements in-class learning. The introduction of the mobile live fire training unit is designed to ensure firefighter training is accessible, affordable, attainable and scalable to all fire services across the province.”

There are 441 fire departments in Ontario including 32 large municipal services consisting of full-time fire personnel, 215 composite fire departments made up of full-time and volunteer personnel, and 194 small municipal fire services or communities without municipal organization and are made up solely of volunteers.

Municipal fire departments work closely with the Office of the Fire Marshal to deliver educational and training programs for firefighters.

The Mobile Live Fire Training Units were manufactured in Ontario by Dräger Safety Canada. Dräger is an international leader in medical and safety technology with over 130 years of experience.

The National Fire Protection Association is an internationally recognized organization that develops fire service training standards used in Ontario.