Fire the real thing at training centre

In order to fight a fire inside the building, firefighters take the side off the smokehouse at the Emergency Response Training Centre on Vale Island on May 22.

In order to fight a fire inside the building, firefighters take the side off the smokehouse at the Emergency Response Training Centre on Vale Island on May 22.

Fire has destroyed two buildings at the Emergency Response Training Centre on Vale Island.

Firefighters were called to the facility – where they do their training – just after 2 p.m. on May 22.

Fire Chief Ross Potter said, when firefighters arrived, the deck between the smokehouse and the training room was fully engulfed, and the two buildings were well involved.

“The training room is a total loss, and our smokehouse is a total loss,” said Potter.

The training room was a trailer used for classes and meetings.

As its name suggests, the smokehouse was a trailer used for smoke training.

“We fill it full of smoke and send firefighters in to do search and rescue,” Potter explained.

The fire department has a theory about what caused the fire.

“We believe it was started by kids playing around with fire at the training facility on our deck,” Potter said, adding it is believed they lit material that had been on the deck.

“This is an assumption,” he said.

“I can’t say for sure but it’s an assumption. There was kids being seen around there for the last week or so.”

Potter had no estimate of the cost of the loss, but he said the facility is fully insured.

As for when the destroyed buildings will be replaced, he said that depends on discussions with the insurance company.

Potter said the fire will not affect training for the time being.

The Emergency Response Training Centre was constructed by the Hay River Fire Department in 1996.

In addition to the two destroyed buildings, it also includes a burn tower, an old vessel, a vehicle extrication area and more.

Potter said the facility was put together by the department with scrounged buildings.

“We did put an awful lot of work into re-siding them, building them so that they can be used for what they were being used for,” he said.

“It was an awful lot of volunteer hours that just went to total waste now.”

When asked if he ever imagined having to fight a real fire at the training facility, Potter said, “We’ve had a couple of times where kids have lit fires up in there before, too.”

 –Paul Bickford