Firefighting training instructor Kelly Hatfull, left, and Chilliwack Fire Capt. Trevor Kirkpatrick talk to Canadian military reservists, who are training before being deployed to fight wildfires in B.C. (Jennifer Feinberg/ The Progress)

Canadian military personnel learn how to fight fires in Chilliwack

Reservists learn to keep safe on the fire line before heading to the Interior

About 200 reservists from the Canadian Armed Forces are completing a two-day firefighting course this week in Chilliwack before being deployed to fight wildfires in B.C.

The military personnel are being trained by Kelly Hatfull, a register professional forester and training consultant, who is guiding them through the S-100 basic fire suppression certification.

“We are counting on the military, the reserves, to come out and help us in the Interior of British Columbia with the fire situation,” Hatfull said.

The course is all about safety first, and making them aware of the hazards they’ll face on the fire line.

“Everything’s a hazard really, the fire, the smoke, the changing weather, rolling debris,” Hatfull said.

Danger trees, and beetle-kill trees can also put lives at risk.

RCMP are “burning out,” he said, and the province is bringing crews from around the world to pitch in.

But the reservists, from bases across B.C., bring something unique.

“Firefighting is a paramilitary operation,” Hatfull said. “These guys are reservists so they understand incident command systems.

“The military’s really important role here is to support all the other resources that are out on the fires now.”

The specialized training sessions are happening at the Chilliwack Fire Department’s new training facility on Wolfe Road. The department and the city offered the 4.5-acre training site when they got the request from military officials and BC Wildfire Service.

“It’s a really exciting opportunity for us to be able help British Columbia during this time,” said Andy Brown, assistant fire chief of training.

Some of their highly experienced personnel are helping with the courses, and some have been deployed to the wildfire zones.

So far 95 members of the Canadian Armed Forces have been trained in Chilliwack and sent out to help. Another two courses are set for this weekend, bringing the total to 200 military personnel who will have cycled through the training.



Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Qualicum Beach takes step closer to banning plastic bags

Respondents of online and open house feedbacks favour plastic bag ban

Public warned not to eat herring eggs harvested from French Creek to Qualicum Bay

Island Health reports vibrio cholerae bacteria linked to eating herring eggs

Qualicum Beach to use RDN services for trash collection

Council says outsourcing waste pickup will be more efficient

Parksville’s Corfield Street to be partially closed March 28

Northbound lane to close for sewer main installation from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Pair arrested after ramming stolen vehicle into police car in Qualicum Beach

Suspects remain in custody on multiple charges pending court appearance

Vancouver Island’s Best Videos of the Week

A look at some of the best video stories from the past week ending March 23, 2018

SurvivorPQB supports local charity

Readers vote for the favourites and are eligible to win $250 in groceries

Health officials called after acid spill near B.C.-Alberta border leaks into creek

Tanker truck crashed south of Dawson Creek, spilling 17,000 litres of hydrochloric acid

Embattled band Hedley plays last show in B.C. before hiatus

About 3,000 tickets had sold for final performance at Kelowna’s Prospera Place

Trudeau to exonerate B.C. First Nations chiefs hanged in 1860s

Prime Minister to absolve Tsilhqot’in chiefs in relation to deaths of 14 construction workers

Canucks sing the Blues as they fall to St. Louis 4-1

Berglund nets two, including the game-winner, to lift St. Louis over Vancouver

Calving season brings hope for Cariboo ranchers

Still a lot of work ahead to recover from the wildfires

Canada’s Kaetlyn Osmond wins figure skating world title

The 22-year-old fwon the women’s singles crown with her Black Swan routine

Vancouver Island pooches celebrate National Puppy Day

Check out some of the submissions we received from around the region

Most Read