Firefighters Bladon Zaplotinsky

To the rescue at Alberni’s Centennial Pier

No one’s fallen off of Centennial Pier's south side just yet but the Port Alberni Fire Department wants to be prepared.

No one’s fallen off of Centennial Pier just yet but the Port Alberni Fire Department wants to be prepared for the eventuality.

The pier was originally built two years ago to protect the ships in Fisherman’s Harbour from strong winds coming in from the Alberni Inlet. As a consequence, it’s now the south side of the pier that takes the brunt of the waves created by the wind.

If the wind is bad enough, anyone who falls into the water on that side is going to have a tough time getting out. The climb up is steep, which means the rescue is steep too.

“If you’re in there trying to swim, I don’t think you’d last very long,” says Fire Chief Tim Pley. “You’d get tired pretty fast and get forced under.”

Realizing this, the Port Alberni Fire Department got to work developing a way to get people out of the water without risking a firefighter’s life in the process.

“We realized we didn’t have any way to get someone out of there. In water rescue you want to be able to throw something to somebody or reach out and pull them as opposed to going in the water,” says deputy chief Chris Jancowski.

“The cargo net is an idea that Chris took from the ship industry; it’s not unusual to see that kind of technique in a search and rescuue situation so we just applied it here,” adds Pley.

The cargo net is a 10-by-15-foot net with six-inch centres that give the person being rescued a place to grab on as well as preventing an unconcious person from slipping out.

Pley is so confident in his firefighters’ creation that he was willing to test it out himself.

“I was gonna jump in but they wouldn’t let me,” he laughs.

Instead, the fire department on Tuesday demonstrated the technique with “Hose A,” a test dummy that gets to 150-160 pounds when wet to simulate an average person.

The net device takes about 15-20 seconds to install on the pier and then “it’s just the firefighters taking the leading edge and dropping it down the side [of the pier] and scooping up underneath,” Jancowski said.

While the ride up isn’t exactly gentle and could lead to a few scratches, Jancowski doesn’t think anyone will complain.

“[It’s] nothing that would outweigh not being rescued or being in the water for a longer period of time,” he said.

reporter@albernivalleynews.com

Twitter.com/AlberniNews

Just Posted

Casual car show will put the drive into food drive

Port Alberni’s Cars and Coffee will wrap up with a food drive in September

Striking Western Forest Products workers could lose benefits in September

Union, forest company at odds over Vancouver Island benefit payments as strike enters third month

Port Alberni bands ‘out of the basement’ and onto an album

Two bands, products of the Alberni Valley’s school of rock, celebrate their CD debut

Stephen Novik takes the mic at Words on Fire in Port Alberni

Event takes place Aug. 29 at Char’s Landing

VIDEO: B.C. woman meets biological mother, 38 years later

Mother never gave up hope of finding daughter, despite all the obstacles

B.C. Lions fall to 1-9 after 13-10 loss to Ticats

Lowly Leos have dropped six straight CFL contests

VIDEO: B.C. woman meets biological mother, 38 years later

Mother never gave up hope of finding daughter, despite all the obstacles

B.C. man who died after rescuing swimmer was known for helping others

Shaun Nugent described as a dad, a coach, a hero and ‘stand-up guy’ at celebration of life

B.C. RCMP plane chases fleeing helicopter as part of major cross-border drug bust

The helicopter eventually landed at a rural property near Chilliwack

Vancouver Island man dead after reported hit-and-run incident

Oceanside RCMP seek public’s help gathering information

Thousands cycle to conquer cancer

The 11th annual Ride to Conquer Cancer took place Saturday morning, Aug. 24 in Surrey, B.C.

PHOTOS: Brazil military begins operations to fight Amazon fires

Amazon fires have become a global issue, escalating tensions between Brazil and European countries

Racist confrontation in Richmond parking lot caught on camera

Woman can be heard yelling racial slurs, swear words at woman in apparent parking dispute

Most Read