By Heather Cameron
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
The 18th Annual Alberta Fire Training Conference will take place from Oct. 19-21 at the Coast Lethbridge Hotel and Conference Centre.
“It’s aimed at firefighters from all different levels, so right from chiefs to right down to the frontline guys that are on the hose line,” said Nathan Coté, President of the Fire Training Planning Committee and Regional Fire Chief at M.D. of Taber Regional Fire Services. “The idea is to bring good solid training and speakers to those guys, so they can learn and grow as firefighters and take that information back to their departments and hopefully everybody improves.”
Coté says that the conference will include both training and speakers, with this year’s keynote speakers being John Ceriello, a Captain with New York City Fire Department (FDNY); Sean Gray, a Captain with Cobb County Fire and Emergency Services; and Derek Alkonis, Research Program Manager with UL’s Fire Safety Research Institute.
According to the schedule on the Conference website, the training, Coté says, will include both hands-on training sessions and speakers. The Thursday and Friday, Coté says, will be the hands-on training days. The Thursday session will be ‘Working in the Fire Flow Path’ taught by John Ceriello and Sean Gray. Friday’s training sessions will be ‘Flashover Simulator Training,’ taught by TBD and ‘Research Based Engine and Truck Tactics’ taught by John Ceriello and Sean Gray.
The sessions on the Saturday, the Conference website says, will include a keynote speech by Assistant Fire Commissioner Phil Rowe; a session on ‘Incorporating FSRI Research into your Fire Ground’ by Derek Alkonis, John Ceriello, and Sean Gray; Hazmat Considerations at Fire Scenes by Brent Bakke; Human Factors: Crew Resource Management by Ryan Grajczyk; Autism Awareness Training for Emergency Services by Shelly Boychuk; Snakes on a Plain by Sheri Monk; and evening keynote speeches by Derek Alkonis, John Ceriello, and Sean Gray.
In addition to the keynote speakers and training sessions, Coté says, there will also be a trade show from 4:30 to 9 p.m. on Oct. 20 and 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the 21st in the hotel’s conference room that will feature at least 40 different booths advertising equipment and fire trucks.
The theme for this year’s Alberta Fire Training Conference is ‘Back to Basics.’
“It’s a theme basically just to say, as everything else in this world, technology kind of creeps in, takes over, and things become more and more technologically advanced,” Coté said. “And our idea for a theme of back to the basics is ‘Let’s go back to our roots.’ Let’s go back to our basics, and remember that firefighting is advancing hoses. Firefighting is learning about fire behaviour and how the fire is going to react within a building and the different things that may affect that. And, the idea is back to the basics to make sure that we have a good understanding of our foundations and how the fire’s going to react, what we need to do to combat that fire, to be able to extinguish it, how we need to be able to maneuver through a house, through smoke to be able to search for potential victims, different things like that.”
Coté says that the Alberta Fire Training Session is truly a fantastic event and encourages people to attend.
“We in the fire service, we all take a certain amount of training just to get our basics under our feet, but then from there, we all need to stay sharp,” Coté said. “We all need to take some continued education and these conferences are a really good opportunity for you to take some small sessions and learn about key topics within the fire service.”
For more information about the Alberta Fire Training Conference or to register, visit: https://www.abfiretraining.org/. According to the Conference website, the Friday admission is $150, the Friday and Saturday admission is $350, Saturday admission is $200, but none of these admission prices include the hands-on-training on Thursday and Friday. The training on the Thursday has separate pricing: the ‘Working in the Fire Flow Path’ training costs $225, the morning ‘Flashover Simulator Training’ costs $150, the evening Flashover Simulator Training costs $100 while the ‘Flashover Simulator Training’ on the Friday costs $100. Lunch and coffee breaks are included in the price of all the costs.
“The members of the M.D. of Taber Regional Fire Service who go and attend the conference, they take that information, and they bring it back to the rest of the department that maybe weren’t able to attend the conference or stayed home to keep our fire service in service,” Coté said. “And so when they bring that information back and they pass that through our fire department, I think it’s absolutely amazing how much we can learn and how we benefit as a fire service, which we hope passes onto the citizens that we look after.”