False alarms continued to haunt the Dauphin Fire Department in 2022.
Fire Chief Cam Abrey singled out the call category in his first report to Dauphin city council since the municipal election last fall.
Throughout the year the department responded to 236 calls, an increase of 17.5 per cent over the previous year, and false alarms accounted for 38 per cent of those calls.
“Our initiative this year was to educate property owners and managers as to how to reduce the number of false alarms that are happening in their facilities,” Abrey said, adding many of the false alarm calls are to repeat addresses. “They just keep having these calls regardless of the education.”
looking at the remainder of the calls, motor vehicle collisions were the next largest category by volume at 20 per cent, followed by kitchen fires and structures and structure fires at eight per cent each. Remaining call categories include outdoor fires at seven per cent, vehicle fires at six per cent, carbon monoxide alarms, mutual aid assists and a catchall “other” category, which includes calls not falling into another column.
In 2022, 4,993 hours were dedicated to those 236 incidents, Abrey said.
“Thirteen per cent of the time was spent in the RM, 86 per cent within the city of Dauphin and one per cent was mutual aid,” he added.
A considerable number of hours were also dedicated to training in 2022, with firefighters accumulating just under 2,500 hours through weekly training sessions every Wednesday, as well as the weekend courses offered by the Emergency Services College and hosted locally.
Currently, the department has once again started a level one and level two training class, which it has opened up for the 11 departments which make up the Riding Mountain Mutual Aid District - Inglis, Roblin, Grandview, Gilbert Plains, Ochre River, Ste. Rose, Laurier, Sifton, Ethelbert and Pine River.
“We have several members of Dauphin taking part in this training along with members from Gilbert Plains, Ochre and Ste. Rose taking advantage of the training opportunity,” Abrey said.
The department also recently hosted an incident command system training session offered by an instructor from the Manitoba Emergency Services College in Brandon, which defines the unique qualities of incident command, Abrey said, and focuses on the management of single resources.
“It’s a great training opportunity for anybody that’s likely to assume a supervisory position with incident command,” Abrey said. “So we had a number of our officers, as well as some firefighters that attended that training.”
In the near future, the department will be hosting a vehicle extrication seminar for the mutual aid district and neighbouring districts.
“We open up training opportunities like this to the Lake Winnipegosis Mutual Aid District, as well as the Swan Valley Mutual Aid District, where the smaller departments may not have the numbers in order to host a program themselves,” Abrey said, adding the seminar will cover internal combustion engine powered vehicles, hybrid vehicles and electric vehicles.
“This prepares personnel to respond to motor vehicle collisions that may require extrication, promotes the importance of working with trained and authorized EMS professionals or paramedic partners and the seminar covers topics such as vehicle safety systems, the anatomy of the vehicle, extrication tools and the use of hand tools.”
The following weekend the department will host a unique training opportunity. Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Services will offer information on an advanced fire dynamics program and an occupational hygiene program, Abrey said, adding he was able to arrange for the opportunity through some contacts he has in the city department.
“They sent several of their members to Ottawa to take this training,” he said. “Ottawa has since cut their funding for the program, so it doesn’t exist there any longer. Winnipeg is continuing to carry it on and they are quickly becoming a center of excellence for this level of training in Canada and beyond.”
The fire dynamics program offers a scientific, evidentiary based firefighting curriculum addressing both theory and practical approaches to modern firefighting, Abrey said.
“It’s currently delivered to all levels of personnel within Winnipeg Fire, from brand new recruits right up the ladder to the district chiefs, providing them with the knowledge and practical skills required for sound decision making regarding strategies and tactics on the ever-evolving and dynamic fire ground within which we operate,” he said.
The occupational hygiene section is a cornerstone of that program, considering the ever-increasing incidence of firefighting-related cancers.
“We have to learn the skills to provide protection to ourselves to minimize exposure to carcinogens in post-fire time frame,” Abrey said. “So it’s not only on the fire ground, it’s that time following, as well.”
Abrey said the department will host 80 firefighters from several mutual aid districts, as well as West Region Tribal Council departments over the two days of training.
“So we’re extremely excited about this unique opportunity,” he said.
Other training opportunities planned for the coming months include a pumper truck basics course and an emergency vehicle driving seminar.
The department is also offering some lifestyles training for members which does not involve the fire ground.
Recently, the DFD brought in a yoga instructor to help members work out some kinks.
“I really thought that there would be some opposition from some of our members to sit and do some chair yoga, but it went over so well that they’re asking if we can get that instructor back again for another night,” Abrey said, joking he heard a lot of snap, crackle and pop happening in the room. “You could hear some really weird noises besides the groaning with the stretches that were happening.”
Recently, the department also hosted members of Project Resilience 911, who shared information on various mental health initiatives and resiliency training opportunities.
Plans are to expand the opportunities with a dietician, information about therapy dogs and training on personal fitness.
“We’re focusing on a health and wellness initiative to better educate our members on how to protect themselves off the fire ground.” Abrey said.