Firefighters' icy plunge

Alanna Kelly

Kelowna firefighters have been jumping and swimming in a frozen pond as part of their training to keep you safe.

Firefighters have been getting familiar with ice at the Kelowna Golf and Country Club pond.

Ice rescue trainer Shawn Wudrich says they were doing everything “your mom tells you never to do.”

The annual training takes firefighters through rescue scenarios so they are prepared when real-life situations happen. 

“In order to learn ice conditions and how ice is affected by our weather, the easy way is to get you there and do it,” said Wudrich. “They are testing the shelf, they are seeing what type of ice supports weight and how much weight we can put on it.”

Most ice rescues Kelowna firefighters respond to are people walking their dogs.

“Instead of trying to do a rescue on their own, call 911, get us moving,” he said. “The sooner the better.”

Wudrich says, ideally, they’d be at the scene, ready to jump in within 10 minutes of someone falling in. 

Firefighters practised situations including self-rescue techniques, line systems, and boat operation rescues. 

Even though the water temperature was only four degrees, firefighters left the frigid pond saying they were “sweating,” with a chuckle. 

“It is a sunny day in the Okanagan … it doesn’t get any better than this,” said Wudrich. 

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