Firefighters up to the challenge

By passing specialized test, firefighters help reduce insurance premiums for some residents

Sooke Fire Rescue Department passed a test Friday that could result in a reduction in home insurance rates for many residents.

It was a test designed by an organization known as the Fire Underwriters Survey, or FUS, which dates back more than 100 years and designed to provide data on fire protection to approximately 85 per cent of the private sector property insurers in Canada.

The test was overseen by a surveyor sent to Sooke by FUS to supervise the test; a test to certify the fire department in the residential dwelling protection category.

Local firefighters passed the test with flying colours, said Sooke Fire Chief Kenn Mount.

It means Sooke homeowners not within 300 meters of a hydrant but within five kilometres of a dedicated water supply point and within eight kilometres of one of the Sooke fire stations now qualify for lower insurance rates.

“It took a lot of practice but we aced the test. The results confirmed what I’ve believed since I took over the department 10 months ago. This is one of the best trained crews I’ve ever worked with. The residents of Sooke should be proud of these firefighters and what they accomplished,” Mount said.

He said the test involved his crews racing to a test site where they had five minutes to set up the hoses and other equipment and create a sustained and consistent flow rate of 200 gallons of water per minute for a period of two hours onto a simulated fire.

While that would have been a daunting task even if the department’s pumper truck could hook directly onto a hydrant, this test added another wrinkle. The crews had to continuously fill three water tanks, or tenders, shuttled to the test site in a synchronized rotation. Water was pumped from the tenders to the fire site.

It was a task requiring planning, coordination, and skill.

“Passing the test was only possible because of our mutual agreement with East Sooke and Metchosin (fire departments). They came in with their tenders and some firefighters to help shuttle the water in from a hydrant away from the test site. We returned the favour and, later that day, we helped Metchosin get their certification by offering our help during their test.” said Mount.

The next step, he said, was to qualify for the FUS commercial index which has a higher standard and requires another test.

“It’s something we’ll be working toward and I have no doubt the firefighters we have in Sooke will be able to pass that test as well,” Mount said.

Sooke Fire Rescue is made up of five full-time staff and about 30 volunteers.