PENTICTON - Retiring deputy fire chief Dave Spalding has fought some of the Penticton’s biggest fires during his 35 year career.
Spalding, 55, was part of the Penticton Fire Department for the Garnet wildfire of 1994, which licked at the eastern edges of the city. He was there for the Three Gables Hotel fire on Feb. 29, 2000 and the Hamlets fire on Duncan Avenue on April 7, 2007. Other fires of note included the Somerset Inn fire which occurred in the late 1980s and the Slack’s Show Pub fire on Front Street in February, 2012.
Spalding has watched as technological and scientific advancements have transformed the business of firefighting.
“Firefighting techniques have changed dramatically in the last decade or so, mainly due to big advances in the science of firefighting, which studies such things as fire behaviour, how heat and fire moves in a building," he says. "The technology is ramping up and improving very quickly, the result being new equipment design and new techniques.”
Penticton firefighters are constantly retraining as new guidelines for firefighting evolve. Spalding says it’s now a daily effort to keep up with the changes.
“We have four members heading to Edmonton next month to learn the latest high rise firefighting techniques as an example. We never used to have to train for high rise fires, but now we have them in the city,” he says.
Spalding has also seen big changes to the firefighters job description during his career.
“As a suppression firefighter, when I first started, we weren’t doing first response, confined space, ice rescue, high angle rope rescue, confined space rescue, high rise firefighting or parkades,” he says.
During his time as deputy fire chief, call volumes have gone from between 800 to 1,000 calls a year to more than 3,500 calls annually.
Spalding began his career in Salmon Arm in 1981 as an auxiliary firefighter. He relocated to Penticton in the summer of 1984 as an auxiliary, signing on as a career firefighter in 1988 and he’s been the deputy chief since 2005.
He hopes to stay involved with the fire service through work with the Justice Institute of B.C. by providing training assistance. His last day of active duty is Feb. 10 and he officially retires April 1.
Spalding's deputy chief position will be filled by Chris Forster.
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