By Carson Ellis
For the Stettler Independent
Redd Swing Productions of Bowden Alberta has created a unique experience for youth to experience the kinds of exercises of actual firefighters. Junior’s Firefighter Challenge is a short obstacle course designed to simulate an actual fire rescue. All activities are like actual training exercises and activities used in fire rescue demonstrations. Only they are scaled down for kids.
The course starts with the participants putting on youth-sized firefighter jackets and pants. They then do an equipment carry where they carry a small ladder. Next is a Hammer Block exercise. This exercise simulates forcing entry through doorways, and other such openings. In the exercise, the contestants stand on a partial frame and hammer a block of wood the length of the frame.
Next, they can experience using a standard fire extinguisher. The fire extinguisher is connected remotely to a light screen a few feet away, and instead of spraying actual material, the hose end emits a laser beam, and the fire reacts according to how the participant uses the extinguisher. Mike Feduniw, who works with Junior’s Firefighter Challenge and has 20-plus years of fire rescue experience, explains that the fire extinguisher exercise is special because many people know what the steps may be but have never used one. This often leads to improper use when the time comes. This part of the challenge gives kids a chance to actually use one properly.
The simulated body drag is normally with a practice dummy of a 200-pound person. The body drag in Junior’s Firefighter Challenge is scaled so the dummy is equivalent to someone approximately 20 pounds. The dummy is carefully lifted by the shoulders and is dragged several feet away ‘to safety.’ The course then ends with a simulated equipment lift. The participant has to lift a small roll of retired fire hose to the top of the truck via rope and pulley.
Redd Swing Owner and Creative Director Nikky Passmore says the idea of Junior’s Fire Fighter Rescue came after a trip to the U.S. where she saw the San Diego fire department putting on similar demonstrations.
She was able to talk to one of the members of the department and found that they did not have a similar demonstration for kids to do. Passmore says that to her knowledge the demonstration she provides is the only one like it in Canada. Passmore designed the experience using her own experience in fire rescue and certificate in Performing Arts.
Passmore and Feduniw are both out of Bowden; the rest of the staff fly in from Vancouver and many of them have similar experience.
The Challenge has travelled across the province and has presented its demonstration at several schools and events such as Stettler’s Steel Wheel Stampede and Donalda’s Canada Day Celebration. They are also slated to be at K-Days and several other major events during the summer.
Junior’s Firefighter Challenge has been so well received; they are looking to buy another truck similar to the retired fire rescue equipment truck they use so they can attend more functions.