Braving the Freeze: Morinville Fire Department’s Ice Rescue Training

Above: Morinville Fire Department members learn ice rescue techniques during training on the Morinville Fish and Game Association pond on Saturday, Feb. 3. – Stephen Dafoe Photo

by Stephen Dafoe

Those taking a stroll around the Fish and Game Association pond last Saturday may have noticed some commotion on the ice and people who seemed to have fallen through. However, the individuals in yellow suits were in the water intentionally and were part of two sessions of ice rescue training conducted by the Morinville Fire Department.

Manager of Community Safety Services and Morinville Fire Chief Brad Boddez said the two sessions were successful for the Department.

“This year’s training went very well. We had 17 firefighters take part in the training along with two of our own in-house trainers for this valuable training certification,” Boddez said in an email interview with MorinvilleNews.com. 

Those participating wear ice rescue water suits called Mustang Suits that are waterproof and help firefighters float in the water while protecting them from the ice-cold elements. 

Firefighters learn how to get into the Mustang Suits and the different types of ice rescue techniques based on the victim’s capabilities of extricating themselves from the water or their level of consciousness.

“We are fortunate that ice water rescue is not a common event that we are called out to very often,” Boddez said. “So, as a result, we have to ensure our firefighters are proficient yearly with this type of rescue operation. This is why we train every year with our firefighters so that they stay sharp in the event we may be called out to perform an ice rescue.”

Training typically occurs as the ice starts to soften, and the danger of walking on it is more significant. Although the weather has been warmer this winter, Boddez explained that the earlier training had more to do with thin schedules than thin ice.

“This year’s training took place earlier than last year due to our specialized instructors’ schedules,” Chief Boddez said. “They are both shift workers and training events sometimes have to accommodate their schedules as they are the only ones certified to instruct this specialty course.”

Ice Rescue Training is one of many ongoing training opportunities Morinville firefighters take part in. 

Morinville Fire Department is recruiting some new members, and although applications are accepted year-round, Wednesday, Feb. 28, is the deadline for consideration for this year’s class of recruits to be paid-on-call firefighters. 

Further details on requirements, including testing is available at https://www.morinville.ca/en/living-here/firefighter-recruitment.aspx.

Above: Morinville Fire Department members were out on the ice at the Morinville Fish and Game Association Pond on Saturday, Feb. 3, for morning and afternoon ice rescue training. Firefighters put on Mustang Suits, a waterproof ice rescue suit. The day’s training taught crews how to get into the suits as well as different types of ice rescue techniques based on the victim’s capabilities of extricating themselves out of the water. The annual training opportunity was two months earlier than last year due to instructor schedules rather than warmer weather. – Stephen Dafoe Photos

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