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Firefighters train on icy lake

Penticton firefighters ventured out on to a frozen section of Okanagan Lake Wednesday to get training in ice rescue.

The training is new to the department, and follows on the heels of swift water rescue training last year.

"We have lakes on both sides of the city and ponds, so this is good for us to know," said Capt. Graham Gowe.

Deputy Fire Chief Dave Spalding said the training came about after administration did a risk assessment following a large volume of water rescues in 2012.

The city council subsequently endorsed the assessment, and last year the swift water training took place in the Okanagan River Channel.

There was some initial ice rescue training in January of 2013, but the fire department only got a few people through.

Now all 30 firefighters with the department are learning the ropes on the ice. Some were out on the weekend, and the training continued on Wednesday, with a different company. More training is also slated for Thursday.

Gowe said they were learning self rescue if they were to fall through themselves and how to save others.

At Wednesday's training, firefighters clad in red lifejackets and helmets were joined by instructor David Scott with Rescue Canada on an icy patch at the Penticton Marina.

One entered the water, while others using learned ice rescue skills were tasked with getting him out. This included going in the freezing water themselves and using a rope system.

The firefighters will now use what they learned in the city itself.

"We are happy the training is taking place and can provide a better service to the community," said Spalding.


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