Sooke Fire Rescue photo

Sooke to host major firefighting conference

B.C. Fire Training Officers Association annual symposium begins today

Firefighters from across the province will take part in training exercises in the Sooke Region beginning this weekend.

The B.C. Fire Training Officers Association annual conference is a seven-day educational seminar that includes both classroom and hands-on training.

The exercises in Sooke, Metchosin and Otter Point involve survival, rescue and recovery operations.

About 130 fire training officers from B.C., Alberta and Washington State will take part in the conference. It’s expected to generate $2.7 million back into the local economy.

“It’s a rare opportunity to have such high-quality training for our volunteers and career staff so close to home,” said Sooke Fire Chief Kenn Mount.

The training covers everything from surface water rescue to vehicle extrication and flat roof fires.

Sooke was picked to host the conference after another community backed out.

“There was a last minute request for someone to step up,” Mount said. “They (the BCFTOA) knew we could pull it off, and have the facilities and the ability to host a conference on short notice.

“We’re definitely recognized in B.C. as a leading fire department. A lot of it has to do with the staff we have here and our successful training weekends with other fire departments in the region for several years.”

Sooke, Metchosin and Otter Point firefighters will work behind the scenes all week supporting services to the conference from providing rides for delegates to facilitating training sessions. Mount will lead some training sessions.

The B.C. Fire Training Officers Association annual conference is the first among many first responder symposiums held in Greater Victoria in the coming weeks. This week’s conference in Sooke piggybacks on the Fire Chiefs Association of B.C. and the emergency management conferences that will be held soon in Victoria.

“It’s important we have these types of sessions ahead of our peak fire season,” Mount said.

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