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Small year-to-year third-quarter reduction for DFD


The third quarter of 2020 was quieter for the Dauphin Fire Department than the same period last year, but not so you would notice.
“From July 1 to Sept. 30, we responded to 48 emergency responses as compared to 51 the previous year. Not a dramatic difference, but a decrease nonetheless,” fire chief Cam Abrey told Dauphin city councillors at their regular meeting, Oct. 13.
Breaking down the statistics, Abrey said the top four response categories were false alarms accounting for 30 per cent of the calls, vehicle collisions at 29 per cent, kitchen fires at nine per cent and structure fires at eight per cent.
As well, Abrey pointed out 45 of the responses were inside city limits with firefighters while there were three calls in the RM of Dauphin and one mutual aid response.
“If you compare the third quarter to year-to-date, not much has changed for our top four,” Abrey said.
“The only thing is that motor vehicle collisions make up the number one category followed by false alarms. So false alarms haven’t changed from that 30 per cent. It’s the kitchen fires that dropped in the third quarter.”
When it comes to training, Abrey said two department members will be completing their written exams soon to, hopefully, earn their Level One accreditation.
The exam process had changed recently, Abrey said, with Mountain View School Division superintendent Dan Ward and assistant superintendent Stephen Jaddock volunteering to proctor exams for the entire mutual aid district locally.
It all started as a conversation asking if the department could access a local school as all exams must be written in an accredited educational facility, Abrey said.
“They have done, I think about 17 exams now and it’s worked out great,”Abrey said.
“We were spending quite a bit in paying our firefighters to travel to Brandon for meals, mileage and sometimes accommodations depending on when the exams happened.
“I can’t thank them enough. The convenience is the biggest part. People had to accommodate in their schedules to travel to Brandon to do these written exams and now we’re able to do them locally.”
Abrey said a new class of Level One and Level Two trainees started their studies in early September and should be ready to write their exams next May or June if everything goes according to schedule.
“We have five members from Dauphin, one from Sifton and two from Ochre River taking part in the Level One in addition to two members from Dauphin, one from Gilbert Plains and one from Ochre River that are starting level two,” Abrey said.
Abrey added some training opportunities for departments in the mutual aid district including a school bus rescue seminar, Oct. 30 to Nov. 1 covering 16 hours of training over 2-1/2 days.
“It’s not just about school buses, it’s about mass casualties. Because we know that buses carry more than two or three people like a passenger vehicle does,” Abrey said.
“And it does take some different techniques in order to gain access to it.
“And it’s not just cutting the metal away, it’s patient care that’s taught. It’s also the removal process. So once the vehicle is cut apart how you get people out.”
As well, on Nov. 7 the department will host two four-hour sessions of The Working Mind for First Responders, a program developed by the Mental Health Commission of Canada.
“It’s an educational based program designed to address and promote mental health and to reduce the stigma of mental illness and first responders,” Abrey said, adding the next day an eight hour leadership session will be held for fire chiefs, deputy chiefs, captains and lieutenants.
“Anybody in a leadership role for the area. In addition to the topics that are covered in a primary course the leaders acquire tools and skills specific to workplace accommodations and return to work. Even though it is a volunteer or paid call setting, they also learn the role of leadership in promoting positive mental health in their employees, ad hoc incident reviews and early recognition.”
The programs, Abrey said, are aimed at improving short-term performance and long-term mental health outcomes while reducing barriers to care, encouraging early access to care, providing tools and resources required to manage and support firefighters, paramedics or anybody in emergency services who may be experiencing a mental illness.
2020 specialty training takes place on the Nov. 13 to 15 weekend when the department hosts the Fire Department Safety Officer Seminar as a pilot program for Manitoba.
“This is a course that used to be offered at the fall conference in Brandon every October. The fall conference hasn’t happened for several years now and it was our request that they revitalized this program. So they’ve redeveloped it and brought it out,” Abrey said, adding the alternative to the class is a 40-hour Monday to Friday training program that most people in rural Manitoba can not take.
“Because they have full-time jobs and can’t take a week of vacation in order to take it through the college. So they’ve now developed this 16-hour program to be delivered in rural Manitoba.”
There will be some more training for Dauphin firefighters, Abrey said, as the management team felt all department members should upgrade their drivers licenses to a Class 3 rating.
In Manitoba, a firefighter only requires a class 4 driver’s license with an air brake endorsement to drive an emergency vehicle in an emergency response.
“But a Class 4 driver’s license you only have to take your own personal vehicle for the driver’s test. So although MPI does state that a class 4 with air endorsement is sufficient, we believe that because we have these large trucks - and our ladder truck and our water tanker both have tandem axles - that maybe we should upgrade to a Class 3 license, which is what’s required for everybody else,” he said.
“It’s basically because if something does happen, and we all know accidents happen, that we want to make sure that we’re covered 100 per cent.”