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New fire training house the draw in St. Jacobs

St. Jacobs fire chief Craig Hoffman will welcome visitors to the St. Jacobs fire station as they check out the new training house and see some fire demonstrations. [Whitney Neilson / The Observer]

 

St. Jacobs fire chief Craig Hoffman will welcome visitors to the St. Jacobs fire station as they check out the new training house and see some fire demonstrations.[Whitney Neilson / The Observer]
St. Jacobs fire chief Craig Hoffman will welcome visitors to the St. Jacobs fire station as they check out the new training house and see some fire demonstrations. [Whitney Neilson / The Observer]
Curious residents will get their first look at the Woolwich fire training house at the annual St. Jacobs fire station open house on August 27.

The event is a fundraiser for equipment for the training house, including ropes and harnesses. Featuring a barbecue, it runs from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., rain or shine.

St. Jacobs chief Craig Hoffman said the training house cost about $15,000 to build and they need an additional $5,000 for the equipment.

“The money part is kind of secondary,” Hoffman said. “Our goal here is to educate the public. We’ll have a fire prevention table out and we’ll be handing out literature to adults and kids.”

The open house will also feature an automobile extrication demonstration, fire-related activities for the kids, and fire extinguisher training.

“It’s something that most people have in their homes but very few people get a chance to operate them,” Hoffman said of the extinguisher. “It’s a very useful tool to have.”

Entry to the open house and barbeque is by donation.

“We’ve often had several hundred people come through,” Hoffman said. “Our goal is to educate the public and show them our equipment here and be able to meet some of the firefighters.”

They’ll also be showing off their Argo, an off-road rescue vehicle important for emergencies in areas like trails where fire trucks and ambulances don’t have access. The vehicle has a stretcher on it to carry a patient to the road. It was used a couple times in the winter.

Township deputy chief Dale Martin said the training house is critical for firefighters to be able to train in a controlled environment. They expect firefighters to start using the training house by October.

“We can do training here regardless of weather, when it’s raining or snowing outside. We or any of the stations in the township can come here and train safely. We’re able to set up proper safety procedures for training with ladders and ropes.”

The training house was built entirely by Woolwich volunteer firefighters, mostly on weekends and evenings.

“The amount we raise will determine a lot of the equipment that will be purchased. It’s an ongoing thing,” Martin said.

The training house is two stories with different features like two kinds of sprinkler systems, a destructible wall, lights with dimmers, and smoke that can fill a room to make it impossible to see.

“We just finished construction early in the summer and we still need to have our design officers design training plans for it and we still need to get some of the training equipment for it,” Hoffman said. “At this point we haven’t had full-fledged training yet.”

Hoffman said they plan to construct different mazes within the house to make it more challenging, rather than firefighters getting used to the same floor plan. There are also crawlspaces for the firefighters to practice going through that can be made smaller to adjust to maneuvering small spaces.

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