A trio of local fire fighters are now certified to instruct other departments on how to handle 'flashovers', following a unique training exercise in Altona this past weekend.

A flashover is when intense heat builds up in a burning enclosed space, causing items to reach their ignition temperature and catch fire at the same time without any flames having touched them.

"Flashovers are very unique and scary. Probably the single-greatest threat to fire fighters today," said Barry Friesen, Deputy Fire Chief for Altona/Rhineland Emergency Services (ARES). He explained these occurrences are happening more frequently due to the increasing amount of synthetic materials used to manufacture items, noting they burn much hotter than natural materials.

The exercise was held in partnership with Pro Upfitters LTD., a private emergency services supplier based in Winnipeg, which is trying to make this knowledge available to all departments in the province, especially those that can't afford to send members to larger centres like Winnipeg or Brandon in order to learn the skills. As a result, 2 members from ARES and 1 from the Plum Coulee Fire Department are part of the select group that will pass on this specialized training.

"You can't help but be a little proud. I know Southern Manitoba has always been on the forefront of training across our whole region and certainly across our mutual aid district. These are the kind of things that affect our fire fighters every day and the more training we can do, the better," said Friesen.

This latest exercise follows the Live Fire Training Tour held in June in conjunction with safety technology company Drager, that attracted representatives from several fire departments in our region, across Canada and parts of the United States.