Wallace District Fire Department’s training site is expanding. For a water source, oilfield matting is providing a road between the training centre and the Scallion Creek, running north of Virden near the municipal airport. Taking time on a Saturday, June 25, about a dozen volunteer firefighters further the construction on the facility that provides real life fire and rescue situations under controlled conditions.
The wooden matting covers soft ground, now made extra soft since another summer storm swept overnight. Brock Koop is running the fork loader, expertly setting the mats in place.
A single lane will extend nearly 70 feet back to the gate of the high chain link training enclosure. A double-wide lane at the river bank ends at a floating platform. Here, the water will be screened and pumped to fill the water tankers for the fire training. This floating dock will be hinged so it can be easily pulled out when necessary.
“We won’t use much water,” says firefighter Curtis Smith, noting they have taken care to stake a mother duck’s nest filled with eggs. To the east, in the training compound more rig mats were laid, to serve as decking for the vehicle extrication area in the north part of the training area.
The Town of Virden provided the land for the department to use, in an agreement that does not allow any permanent structures there. In the June 21 council meeting, the WDFD’s Practical Training Site Plan was approved. This included the creek access.
Fire Chief Brad Yochim explained that the site adjacent to the Virden airport has been landscaped with gravel and fenced to make it secure. An application to Water Stewardship in April gave the environmental green light. However, they requested that WDFD log the amount of water they use for the first year. This will be reviewed in 2017.
The other main consideration listed on the plan is that smoke from a burn could cause visibility problems at the airport. However, the fire department assured Transport Canada they will not hold a live burn if the wind is toward the airport. Within the training compound there’s a burn trailer (rail container car). A bermed area for flammable liquid is an expensive future construction. The site has a car fire area, and a propane tree. A Burn/search house has yet to be constructed. This will also be rail container cars. A three-story ladder tower will be built as well. “Some of the things we were going to do today, we can’t...we’re sinking in the [training] yard,” said Smith. Begun four years ago, it’s a work in progress, above and beyond the regular expense and effort for the fire department.