Live training exercise sharpens firefighter skills

Live training exercise sharpens firefighter skills

MECCA, Calif. - Firefighting is a very special set of skills which, like anything else, require practice.

"We have to be ready and on our toes and we have to be well-trained," said Lt. Frank Nguyen of Cal Fire's Station 86 in Indio.

The building isn't someone's real home, but there's nothing fake about the exercises performed here.

"There's live fire, there's props in there so there's everything for the real scenario," Nguyen said.

"Throughout the county we've done some hiring recently and we bring them out and it's an advantage to get that live fire training," said Fire Captain Kevin McNally.

Structures are new to Nguyen, who's used to battling brush fires.

"I'm really nervous especially being the first day. As a rookie, I don't want to mess up. I want to make these guys proud and do a good job," he said.

The trainee crews performed four fire scenarios meant to simulate real calls.  

As they move in on the building they move up in skill, getting a rare chance to practice some advanced techniques when there are no lives at stake.

"They'll go in the structure and put the fire out, make any rescues necessary and we'll have ventilation crews going to the roof," McNally said. "It allows them to be trained in some technical aspects."

Training that was put to use in Palm Desert just last week. Crews were able to stop this four-alarm blaze at the Fairfield Inn using these same techniques.    

"Really really important to train because structure fires kill firemen all the time," Nguyen said. "That way we can save whoever's in there and look out for each other because we're a family."

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