Wellington County seeing rewards of comprehensive firefighter training program

MAPLETON – Wellington County fire training officer Charles Hamilton gave council here an overview of his 2019 report.

“We’ve created a program that’s economical, it’s efficient, it just jumped out in terms of training our firefighters throughout the county,” Hamilton said at the Jan. 28 council meeting.

Fire departments in Woolwich Township and North Perth are looking to develop a similar program where they can train all of their recruits at the same time.

“They’re part-time departments that don’t have that ability to spend a lot of time on training,” he said.

Councillor Mike Martin said the Wellington County training program goes far beyond getting the job done.

“It’s a fantastic training program and certainly the quality of the product that gets produced at the end far surpasses anything I did when I did my training over in Woolwich,” he said.

“It’s certainly a really well run training program for them and I think it services our community really well.”

Hamilton said that last year there were 42 new recruits for fire services in Wellington County.

“It was a logistical challenge to say the least, but we did get through it,” he said. “I appreciate that help that all the departments including Mapleton provided to accomplish that.”

Hamilton also outlined two new local fire training programs.

One was about hoarding, which he developed with assistance from the Guelph Wellington Hoarding Response group.

“We go into situations like that and it’s packed full of stuff; if there’s a fire in there it’s extremely dangerous for firefighters to be in that big fire,” Hamilton said.

But more than that, he said firefighters can attend medical calls where they see evidence of hoarding.

“We need some help in getting that person some help so that we can reduce that load of stuff … that’s in their building,” he said.

Some fire departments have picked up the short session, and others are scheduled to offer it in 2020.

In Minto, fire training officers developed an autism awareness presentation for firefighters.

“We deal with anybody and everybody,” Hamilton said. “People on the autism scale, they see flashing lights and guys with their bunker coats it does frighten them so there was some good information on how to kind of deal with that situation.

“Try to mitigate our disturbance to those individuals.”

That program too has been used in some Wellington County departments and will be used more this year.

Representatives from different first responder and emergency management committees attended the annual Critical Incident Stress Congress in Niagara Falls.

The first two days were conferences and the last two days were geared towards critical incident stress training. Hamilton said he’s encouraging groups to send representatives for a second year.

Various Wellington County municipalities also underwent fire officer level one training and an incident safety officer course.

Paramedics had the opportunity to train with Centre Wellington Fire and Rescue at the Fergus station to learn about auto extrications, firefighter bunker gear donning and doffing, firefighter CPR and low- and high-angle rope rescue.

There were 160 paramedic participants in just 10 days.

“It was interesting to work with them and I think they liked it,” Hamilton said.

He also hopes that firefighters will use the new County Fire Training website and Fire Lesson Plan Library more often.

“It has all of our training files that local … training officers in Mapleton( for example) can access,” Hamilton said. “So there’s lesson plans, safety plans, whatever they may need.

“If it’s not there I can create it for them and put it on there.”

North Wellington Community News