The quest to have an emergency scenario as realistic as possible led to Fire Prevention Week being a bit more dramatic than normal last week in Rankin Inlet.

Rankin Inlet Fire Chief Mark Wyatt said fire drills were conducted at Simon Alaittuq School (SAS) and Maani Uluyuk Ilinniarvik to simulate a fire breaking out inside the two schools.

He said, overall, it was a busy week for the Rankin department.

Mark Kappi, standing, gives Darren Makkigak a little help adjusting his gear during fire-investigation training in Rankin Inlet. The Rankin department is one of the most active in all of Nunavut for training and gets its message across in all three Rankin schools during Fire Prevention Week. Darrell Greer/NNSL photo

“Normally, for a fire drill, we’d enter the school and randomly pull an alarm or co-ordinate it in such a way that they know they’re having a fire drill,” said Wyatt.

“In this case we went in early and set the smoke machine up in a vacant classroom and turned it on, so the smoke started billowing out under the door and we just left and waited until someone saw smoke and pulled a fire alarm.

“This was the first time we used this approach and, with SAS, very few people in the fire department knew it was a drill either.

“So, not only did we do a really good job with the fire drill at the school – it was also a good training exercise for the fire department in terms of responding and dealing with it.”

Wyatt said he wasn’t worried anyone would be traumatized by fear during the drill.

He said a few people were a little unnerved by the drill, but it still benefitted them in the long run.

“You know what? You have to be prepared for a fire and this is the safest way to make that impact.

“The teachers and the principals at both schools noted that this was by far the best fire drill that they’d ever done.

“There was a sense of urgency that they don’t normally experience when they conduct a fire drill.”

Wyatt said department members go out and have a special talk with students at the schools during Fire Prevention Week.

He said the annual approach also provides an opportunity for the firefighters to discuss an escape plan with the students, something that rarely occurs outside the school. Having an effective fire escape plan was the theme of Fire Prevention Week this year.

“That includes developing an effective home-escape plan in your house th

Capt. George Aksadjuak, back row from left, Lieut. Kelly Kabvitok and Capt. Kyle Lowe join firefighter Catherine Tatty-Kabvitok, front left, to deliver their fire prevention presentation at Leo Ussak Elementary School in Rankin Inlet on Oct. 10. Photo courtesy of Mark Wyatt

at ensures you have two ways out of your home if fire strikes,” said Wyatt.

“The students are used to doing fire drills at school, but when I ask the question of how many of you do fire drills at home, nobody raises their hand, but, when I ask them how many of you sleep with your bedroom door open, most people raise their hand.

“I mean, there are simple things that kids can learn and then they can go home and teach their parents.”

Wyatt said, overall, it was a busy but productive week for the Rankin Inlet Fire Department.

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