Burlington fire fighters place first overall, first in Limited Pit, third in Unlimited Pit and first in Rapid Pit auto extraction categories.

News 100 redBy Staff

September 21, 2017



Maybe it is because Burlington has all kinds of high volume highways running through the city. Maybe it is because the men and women who make up our fire department decided they didn’t see that many serious fire any one year and decided they would focus on something and be really really good at it.

Fire extraction

Firefighters learning how to take the top off a car.

Whichever the Burlington Fire department is as good as it gets in prying people out of badly damaged cars.

The Firefighter Vehicle Rescue Team recently competed and placed in several categories in the North American Vehicle Rescue Challenge hosted by Enfield Fire in Enfield, N.S.

The Burlington team, led by Ryan Stewart, placed first overall and first in Limited Pit, third in Unlimited Pit and first in Rapid Pit categories. Ryan Stewart was named Top Incident Commander and Mark Adams was honoured as Top Medic.

Unlimited Pit: In the unlimited pit you are free to use any tools you wish. Heavy hydraulic cutter and spreaders, pneumatic and electric tools are all permitted.

Limited Pit: In the limited pit, hydraulic tools are not allowed. In some cases not all municipalities have those hydraulic tools on every truck or available at every call. It is also a greater test of tool knowledge, using different tools that can require a greater skill set to operate.

Each team has 20 minutes to complete their work in what first responders refer to as “The Golden Hour”. The golden hour is a one-hour period following traumatic injury during which there is the greatest chances of survival.

Teams from all over the country, as well as teams from New York State, competed in the event that showcased firefighter skills and teamwork in a practical, competitive setting. Vehicle rescue teams use many skills: scene safety, vehicle stabilization, extrication and patient care. Live patients are placed into crushed vehicles in various positions of instability to simulate a real vehicle collision. Teams are given 20 minutes to safely get the patients out of vehicles.

The Burlington Fire Department has been participating in vehicle rescue competitions since 1984. The current team includes team captain Ryan Stewart, team medic Mark Adams and firefighters Chris Viegas, Liam Jewell, Frank Marciello and Scott Wells.

Fire - car extraction team

Dressed for hard work – the Vehicle extraction team that brought winning prizes back to the city from a Nova Scotia based competition. The Vehicle Rescue Team practicing behind Burlington Fire Headquarters – from left to right: Chris Viegas, Frank Marciello, Mark Adams (Medic), Scott Wells, Liam Jewell, Ryan Stewart (Incident Commander)

The team trains and fundraises for 10 hours each week to prepare for three weekend events each summer. Stewart returns for a second two-year rotation as captain while this is the first year for half the other members. Team members will spend a maximum of two years on the Vehicle Rescue Team and then other firefighters will be given the chance to experience this highly specialized training.

Burlington’s team trains, travels and competes at no cost to the taxpayer and relies on fundraising to cover expenses. You can help support the team by donating used electronics at fire stations located at 1255 Fairview St., 711 Appleby Line and 4100 Dundas St.

The team also accepts used vehicles for practice. Tax receipts are issued for vehicle donations. For more information, email vehiclerescue@burlington.ca or visit www.burlington.ca/vehiclerescue.

The Fire Department responds to an average of 650 to 700 motor vehicle collisions a year. The vehicle rescue team includes highly trained men and women who use the latest extrication knowledge, training, proven rescue techniques and equipment.

The first extrication competition held in the Province was hosted by the Ontario Fire College in 1984. The first BFD team competed in that competition.

Car rescue Enfield

These guys clean up pretty god. From left to right: The Vehicle Rescue Team with their awards after the closing ceremonies in Enfield, N.S. Frank Marciello, Chris Viegas, Scott Wells, Mark Adams (Medic), Liam Jewell, Ryan Stewart (Incident Commander)

Today the team consists of six firefighters who invest their personal time to train and compete. Each team member serves a two-year term. While on the team the firefighters are also tasked with delivering on-duty auto-ex training to their colleagues. This process closes the loop on the individual learning that occurs at the competitive level creating organizational learning for the fire department.

To date, 80 per cent of the department has participated on the vehicle rescue team.


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