Funding sparks plans for Regional Fire Training Centre

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Rankin Inlet Fire Department Chief Mark Wyatt saw one of his top priorities move a giant-step closer to reality when Agnico Eagle Mines (AEM) recently donated $250,000 towards the design and construction of a Kivalliq Regional Fire Training Centre.

Wyatt said he initially talked to AEM about the need for a proper training facility in Rankin Inlet while the community was hosting Operation Nanook about 18 months ago.

He said that conversation ultimately led to him submitting a proposal to AEM for the training centre about three months ago.

Agnico Eagle Mines director James D. Nasso, far right, presents a $250,000 donation for the Kivalliq Regional Fire Training Centre to Rankin firefighters, from left, Ozzy Innukshuk, Meagan Netser, Scott Morey, Lt. Pamela Pilakapsi, Obadiah Sanguin, Capt. Kyle Lowe, David Lowe (in back), Capt. George Aksadjuak and Fire Chief Mark Wyatt in Rankin Inlet on June 19, 2019. Photo courtesy of Rankin Inlet Fire Department

“Our fire department has been training in the middle of Rankin’s smelly old dump for years,” said Wyatt. “It’s reached the point where (a) that doesn’t work anymore and (b) it never did in terms of actually training firefighters properly to experience live-fire types of conditions.

“We designed a training building, talked to the hamlet about finding space to move the training ground to, and secured a site behind the ball field for the facility.”

Wyatt said the building will be constructed in the south and shipped to Rankin.

The facility will be built out of five 40-foot sea cans and one 20-footer, with everything being custom built on the inside, including a concrete floor.

“On the first floor, we’ll have two steel-lined burn rooms and movable steel walls to create a maze for search-and-rescue training,” he said.

“Go up the stairs to the second floor and you’ll find a full apartment, with a bedroom, living room, hallway and a kitchen with another burn room in it.”

A sprinkler system will be installed on the first two floors, he added, while the third floor will a have confined-space room that you enter from the roof to conduct confined-space training.

It will also have a hatch between the second and third floors “so we can practice rescuing someone who falls through the floor to the next level and getting them out of the building,” he said.

Wyatt’s proposal highlighted how AEM has a fire department with no training and no place to train, while Rankin has a fire department that needs much better training, and every fire department in the region needs a place where it can actually conduct proper training.

AEM will be able to utilize the building and the Rankin department will be able to manage it.

Rankin Inlet firefighters Amanda Ford, left, and Angnakaluk Maria Friesen execute an effective exterior attack as Deputy Fire Chief Michael Aksadjuak looks on during a structural fire in Rankin on May 29, 2018. NNSL File Photo

“Our department has also raised $100,000 towards the building, which leaves me with about another $200,000 to raise through other sources to, basically, finish it all off,” he said.

“We’re fencing the whole area and putting in props for car fires, dumpster fires, flammable liquids – anything possible to get this recognized as a National Fire Protection Agency-certified training facility, so that, in addition to the Rankin and AEM firefighters, we can also teach live-fire training to firefighters across the Kivalliq.

“Firefighters throughout the region need to be able to properly train for the conditions they face and this facility will provide that.

“We’re building this for the benefit of everyone – safety for the community, safety and training for our firefighters, and increased safety and proper training for every department across the Kivalliq.”