East Sooke Fire Department has found an interesting way of making its crew members more efficient on the job.
The fire department has incorporated soccer, as part of its training regiment.
But unlike other soccer players, the firefighters wear all of their equipment – including their self-contained breathing apparatus – which weighs more than 60 pounds.
The exercise is designed to improve the cardio levels of firefighters, so that when they respond to an emergency call they can better regulate the air in their oxygen tanks.
A standard oxygen tank that has 30 minutes of clean air can be used up in as little as 17 minutes when firefighters are breathing heavily during an emergency call.
“The game was to have fun with what we are really required to do: be ready to work hard in the event of any emergency,” said Fire Chief Roger Beck.
“The [self-contained breathing apparatus] is crucial in protecting firefighters and allowing these volunteers to protect lives and property.”
In recent years, the contents of most homes have changed from natural fabrics to synthetic with a higher rate of possible fire expansion.
“Now more than in the past, firefighters have to be aware to the dangers of the toxic gases and cancer-causing agents in a modern fire. This was just a fun way to remind volunteers of the importance of being ready with personal protection,” Beck said.
In North America, 67 percent of the population relies upon volunteers for fire protection. Locally, that number is much higher.