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'The commitment is worth it': Yukon volunteer firefighters practice battling flames

An old barn in Mount Lorne, Yukon, was set on fire intentionally on Saturday — just for 25 eager volunteer firefighters to extinguish.

5 fires were set in an old barn for Yukon firefighters to practice on

Claire Desmarais, left, has been a Mount Lorne volunteer firefighter for 22 years. Chris Reynolds is a Golden Horn volunteer firefighter. (Jane Sponagle/CBC)

The remains of an old barn smoulder in the snow and firefighters take turns raking the coals. But don't worry — no one's hurt.

This is not an emergency but a training exercise for 25 volunteer firefighters.

Yukon firefighters from five departments — Golden Horn, Marsh Lake, Mount Lorne, Ibex Valley and Hootalinqua — took part in Saturday's firefighting training in Mount Lorne.

An individual offered an unwanted old barn on their property to the fire marshal's office for practice. After an inspection for hazardous materials, five fires were set in the barn for practising on various types of blazes.

"Because volunteer fire departments don't get a ton of experience and there's not that many fires that happen, to have a fairly controlled burn where we can actually train is quite helpful," said Claire Desmarais, who has been a Mount Lorne volunteer firefighter for 22 years.

After an inspection for hazardous materials, five fires were set in a barn for practising on various types of blazes. (Submitted by Colin O'Neill)

Desmarais said training exercises are a good chance for the different departments to work together since they often have to call in other departments during an emergency.

"We get to know the people, we get to know how they work, they get to know us, we get to know if all our equipment works together," said Desmarais.

The exercise was also a chance to train in cold weather. It was about –24 C Saturday afternoon.  

"This is our real conditions we're going to actually be fighting fires in. That's why we want to train in these kinds of conditions as well," said Chris Reynolds, a Golden Horn volunteer firefighter.

Yukon firefighters from five departments — Golden Horn, Marsh Lake, Mount Lorne, Ibex Valley and Hootalinqua — took part in Saturday's firefighting training in Mount Lorne. (Submitted by Chris Reynolds)

That includes making sure equipment like hoses work properly and how to clean up gear after the fire's out.

Desmarais and Reynolds said volunteer fire departments are always looking for new recruits.

"It's a lot of commitment, but the commitment is worth it," said Desmarais.

"It's a community service. It's a humble job to do. You're helping your neighbours," said Reynolds.

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