A fire truck sits outside an old building

Photo Credit: Adam Harding / North Island Gazette

Port Hardy Fire Rescue Lights Old Baptist Church on Fire

Practice makes perfect

Firefighters sometimes start fires to practice safely putting them out

It’s hard to learn how to fight fires unless something is burning. But most of the time, the only things we want to be burning are the campfire and maybe the pile of leaves out back.

We certainly don’t want to set our house on fire as a learning experience.

This weekend, the Port Hardy Fire Rescue held controlled burning exercises to teach professional and volunteer firefighters how to put fires out.

A controlled burn is when a fire is set on purpose and firefighters are already on-site to make sure the fire doesn’t get out of control.

The most successful burn this weekend was the old Baptist Church near Highland and Elk Drive. The congregation opened their new church in November of 2018. They donated their old building to Port Hardy Fire Rescue last fall to help bring more fire safety to the community.

On Saturday, Fire Rescue started a non-destructive burn in the church so firefighters could learn how to put out fires inside while saving the building from being totally burnt down. On Sunday, they started a destructive burn, or “big fire, big water”, where firefighters learn how to deal with a building that is really coming down.

The weekend marks the end of 6 months of training at the old church building. In a statement from Adam Harding of Fire Rescue, the building had been used to train people from all over the North Island. Fire Rescue also teamed up with BC Wildfire Service to train firefighters on how to keep a building fire from spreading to the forest.

Fire Rescue wants to thank local people and groups for helping to make the weekend a success, including the spouses and partners of the firefighters for being super supportive. According to Harding, the training weekend “launched our community fire department forward by leaps and bounds.”