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Swiss Youth Fire Brigade Championships 2011

27. June 2011

The 2011 Swiss Youth Fire Brigade Championships took place on Saturday, 25 June 2011 on the grounds of the Intercantonal Fire Academy ifa under the patronage of the Swiss Fire Service Association ("SFV"). With ideal weather conditions, over 300 competed for the title of Swiss champion. The Swiss championships were won by the Hirschthal 1 youth fire brigade from the town of Hirschthal. We congratulate them sincerely on winning this title and would also like to thank all those who took part, the sponsors and helpers.

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Two new logistics vehicles

01. June 2011

The Intercantonal Fire Academy ifa has taken delivery of two new logistics vehicles for universal use. They are used to take training equipment and other resources, which are provided in modules, to the individual training locations in Balsthal and Lungern. Both vehicles are equipped with a lifting platform, so the modules can be loaded and unloaded easily. These modules take the form of small trolleys which are equipped appropriately for the particular training exercise. A total of 13 of these modules is available at ifa, each equipped differently, for example with technical equipment, breathing apparatus, fire fighting kits, equipment for search and rescue operations or for communications. This means the instructor always has all the equipment he needs to hand.

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New Head Education: Markus Vogt

01. April 2011

On 1 April 2011, Markus Vogt was appointed to the position of Head Education. Markus Vogt joined us in January 2009 as a full-time fire service instructor with the Intercantonal Fire Academy ifa and over the past two years has worked intensively on intervention in underground transportation facilities (UTF). His great experience and in-depth knowledge of UTF, as well as his high level of identification with the Intercantonal Fire Academy ifa meant that Markus Vogt was predestined to take on his new role. The management is convinced that, in Markus Vogt, they have found a highly suitable personality for the position of Training Manager. They wish him a great start and every success in his new job.

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Special vehicles in Balsthal

25. February 2011

For once, no pump water tenders were travelling through the tunnel training facilities in Balsthal, but two tunnel cleaning machines belonging to the NSNW AG company from the Swiss town of Sissach. The ten staff of NSNW AG are usually to be found with these machines in the tunnels of the roads with high volumes of traffic in north west Switzerland. The periodic cleaning of all surfaces improves operating safety and readiness, because bright tunnel walls reduce the risk of accidents. From the end of March to the end of June, a total of 26 tunnels in the area of operations are cleaned, and mostly at night, with approximately four kilometres of "wall cleaning" being carried out in a single night. Some training is necessary to be able to operate the giant cleaning machines safely. It is for this reason that each year ten men travel to Balsthal and practise handling their heavy equipment in the tunnel training facilities. The advantages are clear: expensive tunnel closures for training involving people and equipment can be avoided and traffic flow is not unnecessarily interrupted. Two vehicles - two areas of operations: One of the vehicles in use has been specially designed for exclusively cleaning lamps in the tunnel. The other machine cleans the walls using rotating brushes. Although the training in Balsthal was carried out with water and no soap, it is still true to say: "A clean sweep all round".

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Extraordinary vocal coaching for instructors

20. January 2011

If you are to be understood, it is vital to speak loudly and clearly, and in this respect correct breathing is crucial. With a heavy twin pack unit on your back and breathing mask in place, this quickly becomes very challenging and arduous. Experienced vocal coach Anja Oser from Heidelberg, Germany was brought in to be able to comply with these high demands. Not only did she teach the full-time instructors the theoretical basics of correct speaking whilst also protecting the voice, but also put on the breathing equipment herself, in order to put into practice what had been worked out together beforehand. Anja Oser spent two days training the ifa instructors, with one of the days actually in the tunnel training facilities. And she demonstrated what you can do with your own voice when wearing heavy breathing equipment. After a day wearing breathing equipment the vocal coach had to admit that it is surprising what instructors have to put up with on a daily basis under these conditions. For their part, the instructors were thrilled with this training which was far from their daily norm, and finally surprised what techniques and means can be adopted so you can use your own voice more effectively over a long period.

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New members of staff: Marianne Wernli and Andreas Schneider

06. January 2011

The full-time team of instructors for training in underground transportation facilities has been augmented by two new qualified members of staff. We are delighted to have had Ms. Marianne Wernli (34) and Mr. Andreas Schneider (45) on board since 1 January 2011. Both bring with them many years of fire service and training experience and we welcome them warmly to the ifa team. We wish them both every success in their new challenges.

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BLS/AED training

26. November 2010

The motto for 2010 was "Safety has top priority". Based on the new, comprehensive safety concept, all processes and instruction manuals with a relevance for safety have been revised. Internal and external audits have shown that we are on the right track to guarantee all-round safe operations, both now and in the future. The question of "safety" includes both safety in the workplace and health protection. Therefore, the management decided to prescribe accredited training for all staff in the field of BLS/AED (Basic Life Support and Automated External Defibrillation) or as a first-aider. So, on 25 and 26 November 2010 all non-technical members of staff of the Intercantonal Fire Academy ifa were trained by the Medi company, at the end of which they were presented with BLS/AED certificates. Technical staff will complete the first-aiders' course in January 2011. The management would like to thank all members of staff for their commitment and hopes that the newly gained knowledge will have to be used as infrequently as possible.

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New member of staff: Lorenz Kohler

26. November 2010

We are pleased to have been able to add another member to our technical workforce on 1 November 2010. Lorenz Kohler, 35 years young and Fire Chief of the Mümliswil fire brigade, will actively support our team. We welcome Lorenz Kohler to our team and wish him every success in his work.

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Swiss HGV road traffic rescue course

29. October 2010

On 28 and 29 October 2010, a total of 78 people from all over Switzerland took part in two one-day HGV road traffic rescue courses held at the Intercantonal Fire Academy ifa. The courses were run by the Union of Swiss Fire Departments. Apart from an insight into the modern equipment used in HGVs, course participants had the opportunity to carry out rescues in practice. For this purpose, vehicle cabs were mounted on special trestles block to put them at the same height as in a real situation. This made the use of hydraulic cutters, spreaders and rams more of a physical challenge. Training was rounded off by detailed information on the cab and its equipment, such as the cab tipping arrangement and securing the cab.

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Advanced study courses for officers of the canton of Basel-Landschaft

23. October 2010

Six one-day advanced study courses for officers of the canton of Basel-Landschaft took place from 18 to 23 October 2010 in the Intercantonal Fire Academy ifa, involving the training of 184 officers. Apart from acquiring knowledge about the special requirements of deployment in silos, solar systems and pellet-fired heating systems, the course participants were give the task of assessing and dealing with a complex disaster situation, assessing and leading the team correctly, as well as formulating requests and tasks clearly. Extra topics such as temperature checks, techniques for extinguishing flames at intervals and jetting techniques rounded off this interesting one-day course. The flashover facility attracted particular interest in which the various phases of a fire and its physical circumstances as well as the effect of selective firefighting techniques could be experienced.

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Recreation room and cafeteria

08. March 2010

From now on, all our course participants and instructors will be able to make use of our recreation room, equipped with TV, music and games; whether for a game of billiards, table football or darts with colleagues, at any time, for as long as you want and completely free of charge. Drop in whenever you have the time – in your break, at lunchtime or in the evening and have fun. Thirsty? The new cafeteria and bar is open on selected days and evenings for a cool beer or a glass of wine. Come and join your friends for the evening and discuss the day’s events. Our staff look forward to serving you!

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Modern double rooms

08. March 2010

Course participants and instructors can now stay overnight in our 22 modern rooms. Each double room has plenty of storage space, its own WC and shower and two workstations. Wireless LAN has been installed to give guests instant access to the Internet or emails via their notebook or Smartphone. The cost for an overnight stay including breakfast, Internet access and use of the recreation room is CHF 80.-- per person for the double room or CHF 120.-- for single occupancy. Be our guest and enjoy the convenience of staying overnight at the ifa in Balsthal.

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Traditional “End of construction” party!

08. March 2010

Around 140 craftsmen came to help us celebrate completing the construction work at the ifa. Ifa Director, Urs Kummer, used images and films to provide an informative look at the ifa, the tunnel project and the infrastructure expansion. He gave particular thanks to the craftsmen, without whose extraordinary efforts and work, the construction work could never have been completed successfully. After a delicious three course meal, each craftsman was presented with two gifts. Around forty of the craftsmen made the most of the opportunity to inaugurate the cafeteria along with the ifa team. The last guests left the bar after midnight!

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New refectory is up and running

08. March 2010

The new, attractively-designed refectory in the reception building (Building A) has been fully operational since 8th February 2010. With seating for up to 200, it also has a large free-flow area. A new self-service salad bar has been added to give guests an even wider choice of daily menu. Our modern refectory will not only be used to offer meals to course participants; it can also be used as a flexible event venue for many diverse purposes. We hope all our visitors enjoy their meals and their stay and come back for seconds!

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ISO certification renewed successfully

10. December 2009

The SQS – the Swiss Association for Quality and Management Systems carried out a one day renewal check of all the ifa processes for the ISO 9001:2008 quality norm certification. All quality management systems documents were revised completely and then made accessible to staff members using the ifaNET, our internal website. By eliminating paper copies, the documents can not only be guaranteed up to date, the administrative load is also significantly reduced. At the end of the check, the ifa and all the staff were congratulated on having successfully renewed the certification.

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Welcoming a new member of staff: Josef Winistörfer

07. December 2009

To further strengthen our team, Josef Winistörfer joined the ifa on the 1st November as a technical all-rounder. Josef is 46 years old and a married father of one. He lives in Matzendorf and is a fire brigade officer, bringing 25 years’ experience with him to his new role. Josef is a trained electrician and an EMSR systems specialist. Thanks to his extensive professional experience, he is the ideal person to complement our team. We would like to welcome Josef Winistörfer to our team, wish him a smooth start and lots of success!

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Open Days at Balsthal and Lungern

07. December 2009

On a beautiful autumn weekend on the 3rd and 4th of October 2009, the inter-cantonal fire brigade training centre – ifa, opened its doors in Balsthal and Lungern to welcome just under 18,000 enthusiastic visitors who all wanted to make the most of this unique opportunity to take a look behind the scenes. Around 12,000 visitors came to the extensive grounds of the ifa in Balsthal to find out more about the various training possibilities. The new tunnel training facilities, the Swiss Railways (SBB) internal fire- fighting service fire and rescue trains, the various sized (model) fire brigade vehicles, the hydraulic platform rides that lifted visitors to a height of 35 metres, the road traffic accident rescue exercises and the model fire brigade vehicle show all drew large crowds.  Visitors appreciated the clear and informative signposting for the numerous tours and exhibitions. Our younger visitors thoroughly enjoyed trying on the protective clothing worn by fire fighters and putting out fires with an extinguishing bucket. And what better way to enjoy the mild autumn sun than by discussing the open day with other visitors over a traditional grilled “Bratwurst” sausage? The P&S (Protection and Support) Competence Centre (ziko) also joined the ifa in opening its doors in Balsthal and made a valuable contribution to the success of the weekend.  The weekend was also accompanied by various musical attractions including the P&S band, the city of Basel Caledonia Pipe Band and a jazz matinee. The 6,000 or so interested visitors to the Lungern site wanted to see the new ifa tunnel training facility and the infrastructure of our partner in Lungern, Gasser Felstechnik AG. The main attraction proved to be the 130m fire tunnel that allows emergency services to practice mastering extreme operational scenarios under very realistic conditions. Also on offer for visitors was the chance to see the impressive range of rock engineering technology displayed by our partner Gasser Felstechnik AG.
Thanks to the generous support of our many helpers, the organising committee can look back with pride and contentment on two successful large scale events without any glitches or accidents.
Click here for images of the Open Days at Balsthal
Link to the Swiss Railways (SBB) internal fire-fighting service
Link to the Basel Model Fire Brigade
Link to the P&S Competence Centre (ziko)
Link to Gasser Felstechnik AG

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Bienvenue à l'ifa!

07. December 2009

We are very happy to announce that our website is now available „en français“. To change the language selection, please click on “FR” at the top right hand side of the website.
Nous vous souhaitons beaucoup de plaisir!

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Sapper training ground

07. December 2009

The inter-cantonal fire brigade training centre ifa, planned and created an extensive modern Sapper training ground for the P&S (Protection and Support) Competence Centre (ziko). The project was finished on time and has now been handed over to the ziko.
The Sapper training ground occupies an area of around 1000 m2 and comprises a multi-purpose station, a debris training ground, two bunkers, several pipe and tunnel systems and various small training areas. The Sapper training ground can also be used by fire brigades.

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Flashover facility: a new hot training area

07. December 2009

The flashover facility, delivered to us at the end of 2008, has now been „fired up“. A core group of 12 instructors has tested the facility and now stands ready to train other fire fighters.
In contrast to the other gas-fired simulators in the ifa grounds, the flashover facility uses wood. The fire room allows fire fighters to observe a fire from ignition to the point of flashover and to practice the necessary operational and fire-fighting techniques. The realistic operational conditions permit participants to be trained to a level that significantly increases the safety of incident response personnel and the rescue potential for those affected by the fire.
The training facility is particularly suitable for:

Observing the thermodynamic processes leading up to a flashover
Recognising the signs that precede a flashover
- Using the correct fire fighting technique to prevent a flashover
-  Technical and tactical training (opening hot doors, the correct procedure to tackle fires in enclosed rooms)

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Our modern small fire-fighting platform (for portable extinguisher training) is ready for use

07. December 2009

The area used until now for exercises with portable and small-scale extinguishers was reallocated as a parking area as part of the renovation and extension work that has been ongoing in the inter-cantonal fire brigade training centre ifa. It has been replaced by a new and modern small fire-fighting platform at the southern end of the ifa grounds.
The new small fire-fighting platform has been divided into several zones. In addition to mobile gas-fired simulators, there is a special zone with a chamotte stone floor where solid matter fires can be laid and then extinguished. This new facility doesn’t only meet all the demands of modern training techniques, it is also convincing on an ecological front – for example, the foaming agents used are disposed of correctly and the water used is recycled.

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Course Management - a new business division

13. November 2009

With a view to preparing for upcoming activities, the ifa company management undertook a comprehensive analysis of operating procedures and then adapted them to meet the challenges ahead.
Given that the ifa will soon be increasing its service base when the new tunnel training facilities in Balsthal and Lungern come into operation, the idea of creating a new business division almost suggested itself. The new, distinctly service-based "Course Management" business division forms a link between customers and the ifa and an interface between the Training and Development division and Operations and Technology.
Head of the new "Course Management" division is Rolf Bill, who has shared responsibility for course planning until now. It will be his responsibility to ensure that all the courses, training programmes and events in the ifa are comprehensively planned and executed to the complete satisfaction of our customers. Rolf Bill is the direct point of contact for all current as well as potential customers for

- initial contacts related to training possibilities
- individual consultations up to the point of sending an offer
- the detailed planning of training modules and
- carrying out these modules right through to providing administrative support and invoicing.
Rolf Bill has the active administrative support of Giuseppina Coladonata.
The ifa management is convinced that this new business division will provide the optimum base to ensure that our customers are given the best possible service. We wish Rolf Bill every success in his new role.

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ifa Open Days

13. November 2009

Come to our Open Days on the 3rd and 4th October 2009 and be our guests! Enter into the world of operational incident training and gain an insight into all the training facilities and teaching infrastructures. Make the most of this opportunity to take a look behind the scenes of the only incident training centre in the world with two ignitable tunnel training facilities. There will be many interesting tours to go on in Balsthal and Lungern as well as numerous other attractions and exhibits, inviting you to linger and be amazed. This will be a great day out for young and old, fire brigade enthusiasts and families. Keep the weekend of the 3rd and 4th of October 2009 free and come pay us a visit - the Open Day is from 10am to 5pm on both days. We look forward to seeing you there.

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Militia Instructors (UVA) required

13. November 2009

Operations in subterranean traffic facilities (UVA) make very high demands on all emergency service personnel. Realistic training is essential for operational success. The ifa team of instructors, whether full time or as a secondary occupation, make a decisive contribution to this.
Now that a first core team of UVA instructors has begun training, a further 20 militia instructors can be recruited. After an initial 3 day basic training course, the instructors will co-instruct for 2 x 2 days before they become fully fledged members of the UVA instructor team. Please telephone Christian Schwarz, Head of Training and Development on 062 386 11 20 for more information. Click here to find out more about the requirements for prospective UVA militia instructors

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The finish line is in sight for the new offices

13. November 2009

After a refurbishment phase lasting three months, the finish line is in sight: the ifa administration will move into the newly extended office facilities on the 9th March 2009. All our internal services, including our reception, are now located on the third floor of the infrastructure building (distinctive thanks to the over-dimensional ifa logo on the façade). We look forward to your visit.
 The staff working in the technical department and the refectory have not been affected by the move. They will remain in their current locations. The area on the ground floor of the classroom building (used as administration offices until now) will be converted to serve another purpose at a later date.
You can find out more about the infrastructure expansion here

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Expanding the pyrodrome (fire simulation building)

13. November 2009

The new pyrodrome extension is now available to all those training in and around the pyrodrome building. The extension offers two new training façades with various sized access points, a training terrace plus a briefing room on every training floor. In addition to offering supplementary training options, the expansion also means that the pyrodrome can be used by several classes simultaneously without disruption.

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New staff member: Markus Vogt

13. November 2009

Markus Vogt joined the ifa team on the 12th January 2009 as a full-time fire brigade instructor. Markus has been Chief Fire Officer of the Allschwil Fire Brigade since January 2000. We are delighted to welcome the 45-year old experienced instructor on board.
As a skilled machine fitter, Markus Vogt previously worked as Service and Technical Manager for PRIMUS AG.
Markus Vogt will be able to make a valuable contribution to the educational methodology used in the ifa training programme thanks to his extensive experience in the fire brigade and his qualifications as a rescue officer in the Kat Hi Bat 2 (Disaster Relief Battalion 2), paired with his Swiss Federal qualification as a P&S instructor.
We wish him every success in our team!

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New contact details

13. November 2009

We have new contact details!

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New staff member: Roland Gfeller

13. November 2009

We are pleased to welcome Roland Gfeller to the ifa team. On the 5th January 2009 he joined us as a full-time fire brigade instructor. He is 40 years old, a married father of two and lives in Lengnau bei Biel with 20 years' experience in the Lengnau/Pieterlen/Meinisberg fire brigade. Having worked for around 10 years as a fire brigade instructor for the canton of Bern and the Swiss Firefighters Association as a secondary occupation, he can offer the ifa not only the necessary experience but also, as a qualified instructor with a Swiss Federal Certificate, an assured expertise in educational methodology.
Before he came to the ifa, Roland was able to use his organisational talents on a daily basis in his role as deputy divisional manager for training and emergency management in the Fire Brigade, P&S and Lodgings Office department for the city of Bern.
We would like to welcome Roland Gfeller to our team and wish him every success!

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Happy New Website

13. November 2009

Welcome to our new updated website, launched on the 1st January 2009 at 00:00 and designed to provide a more comprehensive and customer friendly information and news service on every aspect of the ifa.
The ifa website will see ongoing expansion over the coming months so regular visits will definitely be worthwhile. A newsletter service will be launched soon, so that visitors can subscribe to receive our news hot off the press. In the medium term, we are planning to offer the website in four languages.

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We wish you a very Merry Christmas!

13. November 2009

Here we are at the end of a hectic and turbulent year as the ifa was turned into one large building site! Before we toast the new year, we would like to express our sincerest thanks for the agreeable and successful working relationships and the loyalty you have shown us in the past year.
It would be our pleasure to welcome you personally to the ifa in 2009. Much has changed! Come and visit us in person or see what our new website has in store from the 1st January 2009.
We wish you and your family a restful and reflective festive season and send our best wishes for a successful new year!

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