Helping the Community

Once in a while WabFire will be called on to do some work outside of our normal firefighting duties. This past Tuesday we took advantage of the annual pool drain to work on our drafting and to practice using the monitor that’s housed in our Pump 1 truck. What would normally take approximately three days to drain the 395,000 litre pool (that’s 185,507 6-packs, if you need help visualizing), took us 2 hours and 18 minutes!

It’s important to practice drafting, especially where we fight fires in a rural setting as we don’t always have access to a fire hydrant. Drafting is essentially when we draw water from any water source that isn’t a hydrant. To draft we use a hard suction hose (this stops the hose from collapsing, which could severely damage the truck) and a floating strainer (you can see ours has sunk from the weight of the hose!). The strainer stops any bits and pieces from getting into the truck, which could gunk up the internal system or the nozzles.

To spray the water we used the monitor and a solid stream nozzle. With the monitor, we’re able to change the water pattern by simply twisting the front of the monitor (which looks like a huge shower head). It can go from a ‘straight stream’ to a ‘fog pattern’. The monitor can also swivel back and forth and be moved up and down.

The solid stream nozzle is a more traditional fire hose nozzle. It just delivers a solid stream of water. Ours are stacking tips, we’re able to change diameter of the nozzle’s opening, increasing or decreasing the amount of water that passes through the nozzle at any time. Depending on the nozzle tip size, the firefighter manning the pump will need to adjust the pressure the truck is giving the hose to ensure adequate water flow.  

Check out the short video below showing the strength of the monitor!

Wildfire Advisory

There is a fire advisory in effect for Thursday May 11th and and Friday May 12th.

We’re expected to have strong and gusty winds, causing any fire that starts to be spread very quickly.

All fire permits have now been suspended, and no new fire permits will be issued.

Small, safe cooking and warming campfires are allowed when winds are calm. Never leave your campfire unattended and make sure it is extinguished. Soak it, Stir up the ashes and soak it again. Use your hand to ensure the ashes are cool to the touch.

You can keep yourself updated by visiting the Alberta Fire bans Webpage.

Mental Health Week

It is the beginning of the Canadian Mental Health Association’s 66th annual Mental Health Week and they have a whole host of events to raise awareness for mental health.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a very real risk for all first responders, whether they be Firefighters, RCMP, or EMTs. Treatment and diagnoses for mental illnesses improves every day, and PTSD is no exception. Whenever Wabasca Fire Department gets back from an incident, no matter what kind, we have a debriefing. This allows us to discuss anything we thought went well, anything we thought could be improved, and anything that bothered us. It’s a way for members to diffuse, and is the first step to maintaining mental well-being.

If further help is needed, there is a 1-800 number where the we can call to talk to someone anonymously, as well as a peer support program we can phone. The peer support program trains first responders to provide emotional and social support to other first responders. Speaking to someone who’s had similar experiences as you can make a world of difference when trying to recover from an incident. If the peer support person feels the first responder is at risk for developing PTSD, they will recommend the first responder make an appointment with a psychologist, and will follow up later to see how they’re doing.

The treatments for PTSD are as diverse as the people who are diagnosed with it. Medication, therapy and various therapeutic methods, and increasingly, service animals are all methods of treating PTSD. More often than not a person will be given a combination of treatments rather than just one, and the treatments may change depending on how the person responds to them. A support group (made up of friends, family, or a therapist, for example) will provide the emotional support a person needs to help them down the long road to recovery.

Wabasca is fortunate to have PeeKisKweTan “Let’s Talk” Society who will come and help facilitate our more difficult debriefings if need be, and who have a variety of other services available to the community.

If you would like more information on mental health, where you can find help, and how to get involved, please visit Canadian Mental Health Association for more information. If you would like more information on PTSD specifically, please click here.

If you are struggling with your mental health, or are in crisis, please reach out.

Alberta Mental Health Help Line:
1-877-303-2642

Distress Line:
1-800-232-7288

Wildfire Season

Wildfire Season starts March 1st, and ends October 31st. Which means as of this week you’ll have to call 780-891-3860 to obtain a free fire permit for all burning activities, excluding campfires.

A representative from Alberta Agriculture and Forestry (AAF) will come out to your burn site a few days before you intend to burn to determine if you can safely burn there. It will also allow them to call you and notify you if the wildfire conditions change and it becomes too dangerous to do any burning.

You can see the current fire conditions posted at the intersection of Mistassiniy and Airport Road. It’s updated as needed and will also indicate if there is a fire ban on.

The sign looks similar to this one, this photo was taken by Josh Burnham

You can receive Province wide updates on wildfires from these websites:

The Wildfire Status Map will show the location of wildfires, whether they’re under control, being held, or out of control. Wabasca is in the Slave Lake Region. There’s also an app you can download for Android or Apple so you can have this information with you wherever you go

The Alberta Fire Bans Map will show any locations that have fire bans on.

You can find further information on the Fire Ban System here.

The Municipal offices on Mistassiniy Road also have several pamphlets on wildfire safety and OHVs, burn barrels, etc.

Report any wildfire you see by calling 310-FIRE (3473).

Burn Awareness Week

Burn Awareness Week Web Banner 2017_edited-1

We’re in the middle of burn awareness week in Alberta, which focuses on educating people about how to protect babies and children from burns and scalds, and what to do if they do become burned or scalded.

Did you know, an estimated 9,000 children in Canada visit hospital emergency rooms for burn treatments every year! A child’s skin burns four times more quickly and deeply than an adult’s skin at the same temperature. The most common cause? Hot liquid scalds, such as from spilled drinks and even tap water.

Here are some tips for preventing scalds and burns in your home:

  • Turn pot handles away from the stove’s edge.
  • Keep hot foods and liquids away from table and counter edge.
  • Before placing a child in the bath or getting into the tub yourself, test the water.
  • If children are home, do not leave the bathroom while the tub is filling.
  • Teach children that hot things burn

Make sure you treat a burn right away by putting it in cool water. Cool the burn for 3-5 minutes before covering it with a clean, dry cloth. DON’T apply creams, sprays, ointments, or other home remedies.

Go to your local emergency room, call 911, or see your doctor if the burn is on the face, hands, feet, major joints (such as your knee or elbow), genital area, and/or bigger than the injured person’s palm.

You can find more safety and treatment tips,  as well as an informative video on how to safely put out a stove top fire, on the Office of the Fire Commissioner’s webpage.

A final tip, don’t Google image search burns and scalds unless you have a strong stomach!

Emergency Preparedness

We’re at the end of Emergency Preparedness Week, and with the recent mandatory evacuation of the Fort McMurray, it’s more apparent than ever the importance of preparing for an emergency.

To help prepare you and your family for an emergency, it helps to have a 72 hour kit on hand. This kit should contain

  • food and water (enough for 3 days, non perishable food)
  • bedding and clothing (for all weather)
  • light and fuel (candles, flares, batteries)
  • some general equipment (such as a cellphone charger, rope and duct tape)
  • personal supplies and medication (first aid, toiletries, prescriptions)
  • Copies of personal documents, money (insurance policies, credit cards, legal documents)
  • Ready-to-go kit (an easy to carry bag filled with items to keep you safe if you have to leave the house in a hurry)

The full list of recommended items to have in your emergency kit can be found here.

You should update your kit every 6 months, this way any food, water, or medication doesn’t expire. Don’t forget to add small toys or games to provide some comfort during times of stress.

Please view the Alberta Emergency Management Page (please note there may be an Alberta Emergency Alert alarm that sounds) for other resources such as emergency preparedness for your pets, getting ready for tornadoes and how to cope after the emergency.

Stay safe everyone, and be prepared.

Alberta’s Wildfire Season

Wildfire_Social_Media_Graphic

Alberta’s wildfire season started March 1st, and already there are several Municipalities that have fire bans and fire restrictions. For up to date information on where fire bans, restrictions, and advisories are, please visit Alberta Fire Bans. The Wildfire Status Webpage has a map showing all the Alberta wildfires from this year, and has information on whether they’re out of control, being held, or under control. There’s also an app you can download to your phone; just search for Alberta Wildfire in the Play Store or the App Store.

You will need to apply for a free fire permit for any outdoor burning you do, (excluding campfires) no matter how small it is. For Wabasca area please call 1-780-891-3860; make sure to call a couple days in advance of when you wish to do the burning so the agents have time to come out and see what and where you want to burn to make sure it’s safe. A fire permit will stop a false alarm being raised for your burn, and will give ESRD a means to contact you if conditions change, for example if a fire ban is placed on the area, potentially stopping a wildfire from starting.

To prepare for wildfire season, you can do the following:

  • Dispose of debris and lawn clippings quickly to reduce fuel for fire. Don’t let them linger.
  • Clear leaves and other vegetative debris from roofs, gutters, porches and decks. This helps prevent embers from igniting your home.
  • Remove dead vegetation and other items from under your deck or porch, and within 10 feet of the house.
  • Remove flammable materials (wood piles, propane tanks) within 30 feet of your home’s foundation and outbuildings, including garages and sheds. If it can catch fire, don’t let it touch your house, deck or porch.
  • Prune trees so the lowest branches are 6 to 10 feet from the ground. Wildfire can spread to tree tops.

For more information on the Alberta wildfire season, please look through the Office of Fire Commissioner’s webpage.

Remember, if you see a wild fire, please call 310-FIRE (3473) immediately

Thank you for doing your part to protect your community from wildfires!

Confined Spaces Training

This past weekend, members from the Wabasca Fire Department and Bigstone Fire Department participated in the Confined Spaces Training, taught by a former Wabasca Fire Department Firefighter through Learn-Rite Courses Inc.

The first day was spent in the class room where we learned what was considered a confined space, what the hazards are, and how to stay safe in confined spaces.

20160403_094654The second day was spent doing the practicum; everyone geared up and paired off, we all checked out the inside of the confined space, and then we sent the first pair in, timing them, of course. It’s no fun without a little bit of competition!

20160403_090338

This was the inside of the confined space, the doors wide open. We had to enter a much smaller door, bunker gear and breathing apparatus on to simulate a real life scenario. Before the team would enter the space, the victim would be hidden.


20160403_09592720160403_091459

Once the team found the victim they would relay it back to the stand-by crew who would grab the victim, then help the team safely exit the confined space.20160403_09403420160403_094730 20160403_095129

The fastest time was 2 minutes!

Everyone passed with flying colours! Great job Firefighters!