It’s shortly after 7pm on Thursday Sept. 28th and a dozen members of the Valemount Volunteer Fire Department swap banter as they wait for Fire Chief Rick Lalonde to start the meeting. On tonight’s agenda is Halloween and information about the elementary school’s Fire Prevention Week activities. Lalonde explains the Halloween fireworks will go ahead this year on Oct 31st. He also talks about the fire hall tour given to the lucky winners of the Fire Prevention contest that is run in conjunction with the elementary school. Kids are invited to draw their home and what escape route they would take if there was a fire. Then Lalonde and veteran firefighter Dale Mintz break the group into two, one practicing how to put on full firefighting gear – including oxygen tanks and masks – the other practicing using power tools that are used in extrication from vehicles during highway rescues. Midway through fire practice a real fire call comes in and the firefighters run to their stalls to collect any remaining gear. Within two minutes, they are pulling out of the fire hall to attend a rescue call. Not long after they leave, dispatch calls to tell them to stand down – that other first responders are already on scene. /LAURA KEIL
Dale Mintz shows a younger firefighter how to properly fit his gear to ensure he stays safe during a fire. / LAURA KEIL
Gerhard Oberauer shows his mastery of this power tool as he successfully places a wooden block on top of a very wobbly “Jenga” tower. The game is used to practice using the power tool which is often used in vehicle extrications during highway rescues. / LAURA KEIL
Billy manoeuvers the block to the top of the pile. /LAURA KEIL