With the aid of its new training facility, the members of the Wetaskiwin Fire Department are now able to train better, smarter and more accurately than ever before.
“I think the product of firefighter we’re putting out now is far better than we’ve had in the past,” said fire chief Leigh Sawicki.
Earlier this month the Wetaskiwin Fire Department announced it has been awarded $20,000 under the Farm Credit (FCC) Canada AgriSpirit Fund.
Sawicki says of the 1,200 applicants the fire department and the City of Wetaskiwin placed in the top 78; of those 14 were for Alberta projects.
“Its really nice to have someone think our project was worth $20,000,” said Sawicki.
Located east of the city, on five acres of a 40-acre property owned by the City of Wetaskiwin, the Wetaskiwin Regional Fire Training Centre is not nearly finished in final design.
The FCC grant is to help offset the costs of constructing the multi-level — currently tri-level — facility.
Sawicki says the City of Wetaskiwin supplied the bulk of the funding needed for the project. Another $25,000 came from the Richardson Pioneer Grant.
Approximately $200,000 has been put into the training facility.
“This is Phase 1 of a two phase building, which is seven containers,” said Sawicki.
“Phase 2 will actually be four storeys and is six containers,” he added.
Phase 2 will include balconies to help simulate apartments.
Sawicki says a partnership with ATCO is in the works to provide natural gas to the site and the city is looking at putting in a hydrant system. He added there is a possibility of CP Rail donating rail cars to be used at the facility. As well, Fortis Alberta may install power lines for overhead power simulations.
“Eventually I’d like to see classrooms out here,” said Sawicki. In the future, he has dreams of turning the training facility in to a firefighter school.
With greater potential for off road vehicle training and vehicle extractions, Sawicki says the training facility is growing into much more than what people originally thought it would be able to provide.
With just Phase 1 the firefighters are able to simulate basement fires, multi-level fires, and practice confined space simulations. There is also a roof prop for high angle simulations.
Wetaskiwin’s firefighters are not the only ones using the facility, as the RCMP also use it for training. Sawicki says it is also open to other departments in the area.