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VIDEO: Salmon Arm firefighters hone skills, race other halls, do ‘incredible job’

Fire Chief Brad Shirley compliments everyone who took part in timed skills contest

Salmon Arm’s Hall 3 was victorious in this year’s battle of the fire halls, but by the smallest of margins.

In the early 2000s, a Combined Timed Activity or CTA was begun for the four halls in the city, explains Fire Chief Brad Shirley.

The idea was to have a fun activity where the firefighters could test their skills.

Although the halls train together and are part of one fire department, “they can be a little competitive between each other,” Shirley smiled.

Hall 1 is Canoe, Hall 2, Broadview at the top of the hill, Hall 3, downtown Salmon Arm and Hall 4, Gleneden.

On Tuesday evening, Aug. 30, the four halls, including recruits and junior firefighters, gathered in the parking lot at Westgate Market to try for the coveted bronze firefighter statue.

At the start line, four firefighters from a hall would line up, facing the back of their firetruck where their personal gear had been laid out on the ground. At the sound of the air horn, they’d walk quickly up to the truck, don all their personal protective equipment and hop in.

All the while a judge would be watching to see that everything was done correctly. Seatbelts, for instance, are a must before the firetruck moves. Accountability tags are placed on a board inside the truck.

Then the truck would be driven through a serpentine of cones, with points lost for any cone knocked over.

This reporter, given a test ride in the back seat of the Hall 3 truck, can attest to the need for seatbelts. As the big truck lumbered and lurched around the cones (yet leaving them upright), I was surprised to see how easy it would be to get propelled out of the seat, likely flying unprofessionally into someone else’s personal space.

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After the cones, the truck pulled to the end of the laneway and stopped, and the firefighters jumped out to attend to their varied tasks. If anyone gets out before the parking brake is on, more demerits.

The tasks included making sure the truck wheels are chocked, getting out the self-contained breathing apparatus with two firefighters putting theirs on, getting the pumps running and hooking up the hose. A firefighter then collects the nozzles and hoses, turns on the hose and takes aim at a cone sitting on a bucket nearby, knocking over the cone. Then a firefighter wearing the breathing apparatus comes over, also takes a hose and knocks down a second cone.

At that point the horn blasts. Time stops.

During this last part of the drill, a judge has been watching for such necessities as the truck wheels being chocked properly and the breathing apparatus put on correctly.

Each fire hall runs through the drill three times. The three judges, who have added time onto each hall’s score for anything done incorrectly, then tally the totals. The hall with the fastest time overall wins.

This year, Hall 3 prevailed with the team of Chris Scarborough, Ben Schmidt, Riley Hazelton and Travis Koprowsky. Their time: two minutes, 25 seconds.

Second and third place weren’t far behind. Shirley said Hall 2, Broadview, was second, a mere three seconds behind Hall 3.

“Each hall did an incredible job,” he said proudly.

Also part of the evening’s training but not part of the drill was Salmon Arm’s new 104-foot ladder truck, able to reach about seven storeys high.

Although this reporter, generally open to new adventures, was offered a ride up into the skies with the new truck, I declined the kind offer. The rattled look a few weeks earlier on the face of a public figure who’d just had a ride came to mind. More deterring, though, was the possibility of inadvertently sharing my just-consumed dinner with an unsuspecting firefighter.

Maybe next time.

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Martha Wickett

About the Author: Martha Wickett

came to Salmon Arm in May of 2004 to work at the Observer. I was looking for a change from the hustle and bustle of the Lower Mainland, where I had spent more than a decade working in community newspapers.
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