Pugwash Wins 1st Fire Olympics
The Pugwash Fire Department hosted the 1st Annual Firefighters Olympics yesterday, as part of the 2018 edition of HarbourFest.
Firefighters from four area departments took part in kind of relay race that required participants to demonstrate a number of skills that are critical at a fire scene.
The host Pugwash Department completed the course, nearly perfectly, in 3 minutes and 38 seconds, a surprisingly fast time. Springhill followed in second spot with a time of 4:42. Shinimicas was third at 5:09, while Oxford clocked in at 5:59. Click the video to see the winning run.
The winning team included, L to R: Kyle Laird, Mark Robinson, Shirley Cheung, Kathy Betts, and Deputy Chief Ron Betts.
A boisterous crowd was on hand to support their respective firefighters, but it was clear the PFD enjoyed the hometown advantage.
The audience was also treated to a pair of demonstrations, a vehicle extraction, and a water rescue.
The extraction exercise showed the powerful tools used to tear apart a car to gain entry to trapped occupants. Often called the “jaws of life”, firefighters demonstrated the power of a spreader and a cutter. Together, those tools can literally tear open a car.
In the demonstration, a team of rescuers removed the roof of a car, followed by the doors. They even lifted the dash to make room for safely removing the driver in the mock crash.
It is commonly allowed that vehicle extraction should not take longer than twenty minutes. While the demonstration did much more, the rescuers only took seven minutes to open the vehicle for a safe extraction.
Following the demonstration, some onlookers tried their hand at cutting part of the car. The first reaction was shock at the weight of the tools, but with a little help, they successfully cut off parts of the frame. Lucas Patterson of Oxford donned the safety glasses and cut away a door post. Given that his father is a member of the Oxford Department, the young fellow may soon follow.
The Big Banana Rescue
The audience was also treated to a modified water rescue. Lily Sanderson, a junior member of the PFD, swam into the harbour to pose as a swimmer in distress. A large yellow craft was inflated to to fill in as a rescue boat.
Affectionately called the “Big Banana”, the craft is actually designed for ice rescue, but the Pugwash Department does not have a rescue boat, so firefighters have modified its use for harbour and river duty.
However, the Big Banana would serve no purpose in an offshore rescue. The PFD relies on borrowing a boat, and more often that means a jet-ski, to reach people in distress off the coast.
The water coverage area for Pugwash Fire is likely the largest of any department in the county, considering the beaches, harbour, and estuaries of River Philip, and the Pugwash River.
The concern has grown in recent years with a dramatic surge in boating activity, not to mention a healthy commercial fishery. The number of rescue calls has also increased for windsurfers, paddle boarders, and swimmers who strayed into the Northumberland winds and currents on floatation devices.