KING’S POINT, NL — The confidence Angela Strickland gained as a firefighter this past weekend in Springdale will help her better serve King’s Point residents and meet their fire protection needs.
The Springdale Fire Department hosted two days of regional training Saturday and Sunday, offering courses in defensive firefighting, self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA), pumper operations, and basic fire inspection.
About 40 firefighters from around the region participated in various training disciplines.
Strickland signed on with the King’s Point department within the past year, fulfilling a long-time dream. She was one of three women who joined the department recently, which made the decision to finally take that step a little easier.
It was the first opportunity Strickland had to complete the defensive training required for all firefighters.
“Awesome” was a word she used a lot to describe her experience on the fire department so far, as well as the training she received from Springdale firefighter Peter Hillier this past weekend.
“It was very professional,” she said.
She headed back to her hometown feeling good about her ability to protect her fellow residents.
“It certainly made me more confident,” she said.
The experience also reinforced much of what Strickland has learned so far from her colleagues with the King’s Point department. She said they have done a great job preparing her.
“It was nice to know that, even though we are a small fire brigade, we do all this training as well,” she said. “ I actually had a bit of background when I got there.”
Strickland said she has a newfound appreciation for the regional support that exists between fire departments and communities. She said they are there for each other to provide back-up support during emergencies, but also for various services required in the profession.
Nothing could have been more indicative of that than the training that took place in Springdale this weekend.
Veteran Springdale firefighter Everett Pitts said these types of training exercises are vital to small-town, volunteer firefighters. He said they come at a low cost, but are extremely valuable in the protection of towns.
“It is nice to say we have a fire department, but it is better to say we have a fire department that is trained,” he said. “There are a few fire departments around that are only a shingle and a door — there is no training and no meetings.
“When a call comes in they respond and say they did the best they could, and I say no, they didn’t. If they were trained, they could have done better.”
Training could be instrumental in saving a property or a life — not just the life of a resident, but also a firefighter.
The Springdale Fire Department has offered training sessions twice annually for quite some time, according to Pitts. They avail of provincial funding to provide these “mini schools” with certified instructors, and resources such as a smokehouse to execute the necessary skills.
Valuable skills training is not just required in the field, said Pitts – skills such as fire department management are also important.
“A lot of smaller fire departments out there can’t do it on their own,” Pitts said. “We feel like we can offer it, so why not.”