Britannia fundraises for fire centre

By Geoff Lee

January 17, 2018 1:27 PM

The Britannia Fire Department kicked off a $25,000 capital campaign Friday to create a live fire training facility on site with a $5,000 donation from Canadian Natural Resources. CNR’s Rees Lusk, operations superintendent, presented the cheque for a photo op with assistance from fire chief John Bexson, on his left, and deputy fire chief Aaron Buckingham on his right with other members in attendance for the presentation. SUPPLIED PHOTO

Rule changes by the Ministry of Environment in Saskatchewan have led the Britannia Fire Department to fundraise for its own on site fire training centre.
The department held a news conference Friday to celebrate a $5,000 donation from Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. toward a $25,000 capital campaign fund.
“We used to be able to have someone donate us a property or a building to go in and train on and do search and rescue and all that stuff, and then eventually do a live fire demonstration in it,” said deputy fire chief Aaron Buckingham.
“But now the environmental rules are changing where we’re not allowed to burn an old house anymore with the toxins coming out in the smoke.”
The Clean Air Act in Saskatchewan previously had the authority to waive firefighting exercises from having to obtain a permit, but that was repealed on June 1, 2015. 
Today, Section 13 and 14 of the Environmental Management and Protection Act (EMPA) General Regulations captures the open burning of materials such as those conducted during firefighting exercises.
“Persons would have to apply to obtain a permit under Section 14 of the EMPA General Regulations to conduct firefighting exercises when planning to burn down old or donated houses for training,” said Environment ministry spokesperson, Darby Semeniuk.
Semeniuk said his ministry is currently working with the Emergency Management and Fire Safety Branch of Government Relations (GR) to develop a process with an associated guidance document.
“Instead of our ministry issuing permits, GR would take the lead as subject matter experts,” he said.
Buckingham notes in order to have a more environmentally friendly way to train, his department is looking at building a Sea Can training facility where they can burn interior walls etc. without destroying the basic structure.
He said they are currently reaching out to the community for more donations to help aid them in the construction.
“Canadian Natural has been a long time community partner of ours and we are once again thrilled that they have stepped up to the plate to help us to train at a higher level to serve our community,” said Buckingham.
“We are hoping to find more partners to push us to our goal and have this facility up and running in 2018.”
Buckingham said there is nothing more handy or efficient than having your own training ground right on site.
“Being able to have our guys come to the hall, come up to the classroom, lay out the plan, go out the back door straight out to where we’re going to be training; it’s really efficient on time spent by our volunteers,” he said.
He added that it’s efficient cost-wise as well to have it right on site.
The project is seeking a minimum of two Sea Cans that the department can configure with false walls for changing up search and rescue tactics and for flashover training for live fire and general firefighting training.
“If somebody’s got Sea Cans they’d like to donate, we’d even accept them as donations,” said Buckingham, who added they’ll do all the work to set them up.
“Anyone can get in touch with me if they want to do a financial contribution or they’ve got Sea Cans that they want to get rid of and donate from their company,” he said.

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