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New guidelines for Vauxhall firefighters

Posted on October 6, 2016 by Vauxhall Advance

Procedures: Guidelines cover everything from protective gear to air support requests

By Nikki Jamieson
Vauxhall Advance

Vauxhall firefighters have a new set of guidelines when it comes to fighting fires.

During their regular Oct. 3 meeting, Vauxhall fire Chief Brian Schafer met with town council to discuss their new operating guidelines.

“It’s probably taken about two years to do this; hit and miss everywhere,” said Schafer.

“This is our operating guidelines. You guys know we have a level of service bylaw — it says what we’re going to do, the operating guidelines fall in line with that, so it tells us what we’re going to do in that situation.”

For use by newcomers and more seasoned volunteers, the 58 operating guidelines lay out what is procedure in certain situations, covering topics such as confidentiality, training requirements, gear, harassment, wildfire, air support requests and breakdown of job descriptions.

“It covers all the way down,” said Schafer, adding it got approval from the M.D..

“It’s kind of an insurance that covers us, as well as you guys, and the M.D. regional fire authority, that if somebody does decide to go against these, this is going to be precedent.”

One guideline concerns the use of civilians, citing the use of farmers or someone grabbing a hose to help put out a fire downtown.

“We’re not going to say, ‘Stand over there, don’t move’. We want as much help as we can get, as long as it can be coordinated safely, we will take these people’s help.”

Focussing on farmers, Schafer noted that they would know where all the water supplies would be on their land, and would know their land better. They would want to coordinate with them as well, as there would be a lot of people and heavy equipment in an area that could have little visibility.

“We would want to coordinate an attack, because, we’ll go back six years ago, when me and another person were in a truck,” said Schafer.

“People were everywhere, and we almost got run over by a John Deere tractor. You could see it coming through the smoke, so after that point, it was like, ‘Everybody stops, this is the plan, we’re all doing one coordinated effort’, and everybody is on the same page.”

Right now, the department is creating a database of farmers in what area and their cellphone number, that way when they do go out to a big call, they can call the farmers in the area and let them know what’s happening.

“We’re not going to chase the help away, we’re going to take as much as we can, as long as it is safe.”

While the guidelines do mark procedure, there is also a legal disclaimer that allows for the fire chief, M.D. DEM and incident commander to deviate from procedure, and — in the case the new plan goes sideways — cover them for that.

The guidelines can also be edited at anytime, depending on what works or not.

“Nothing ever goes according to a piece of paper,” said Schafer.

“Especially fires,” said Margaret Plumtree, Vauxhall Mayor.

Council passed a motion to approve the operating guidelines.

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