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Rookie firefighters ready to roll out

The Channel-Port aux Basques Volunteer Fire Department’s three new members work together to handle a 2.5 inch high pressure fire hose. – © Jerry Musseau, Fire Chief

PORT AUX BASQUES – Rookie firefighters Leo Strickland, Joshua Legge and René Roy have completed their initial required training and will now respond to emergency calls as members of the Channel-Port aux Basques Volunteer Fire Department.

Chief Jerry Musseau, Captain John Collier, and veteran firefighters Gary Sparkes, Earl LeRiche and Brad Leamon put the three new volunteers through a two-day program of defensive firefighter training that finished on Sunday, Aug. 16.

“It was just fantastic today,” said Chief Musseau. “It’s quite an intensive day and a lot of work to be done in a short time to tell you the truth.”

The three new firefighters learned ladder work such as how to carry people down, hose work such as hookups, breathing apparatus training and how to sweep and clear a burning structure. There were a few surprises for the rookies, including how to use the fire hose to ventilate smoke from a room.

The Chief had nothing but praise for his new crew members, noting that none of them backed away from what is a tough challenge.

“It went pretty smooth,” said Musseau. “I guess they got comfortable once they got used to wearing the equipment and using it around a fire scene and through a smoke-filled environment, and the more they’re going to use it the more comfortable they’re going to be, but they’ve all done well I must say.”

“It was very good,” agreed Legge. “It was about what I expected.”

Initially the department had chosen five new volunteers to add to their roster, but two resigned prior to the defensive firefighting testing.

“They weren’t able to come to the training and this is a mandatory training,” said Musseau. “It’s not for everybody.”

Normally the department avoids this kind of training during the hot summer months, but the complication of COVID-19 necessitated some unavoidable rescheduling that resulted in delays. Now that they are full fledged firefighters, the rookies will continue to learn via the regularly scheduled two-week department training sessions, assuming there are no further pandemic prompted delays.

They’ll also have an opportunity to train for emergencies that might require the Jaws of Life or even Hazmat, which the Chief says is on the radar. There’s a prerequisite training program first, but provided there is enough interest from the region’s departments the five-day Hazmat training will be scheduled.

“We’re hoping to get that moving in early fall, provided we’ve got the interest,” confirmed Musseau.

When the new pumper truck arrives in late September, the entire fire department will receive training on its operation from the Fire Commissioner.

The Port aux Basques detachment has a standing mutual aid agreement with other departments along the Southwest Coast, from Codroy Valley to Rose Blanche-Harbour Le Cou.

Despite reports to the contrary, the Port aux Basques detachment was not dispatched last weekend to help with the Codroy Valley fire, which is being battled by the provincial forestry department.

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