CALFIRE's third and final seasonal firefighter training of the year took place last week at the Hilkfiker Training Site. What are they training for? Everything. Literally every scenario that might require their response, from a burning school bus to running up six flights of stairs in full protective gear. On the day we visited, returning firefighter Dylan Fluet had his legs pinned between two junked cars. The scenario: a parking lot mishap. Fluet moaned loudly as his crew, six green recruits, assessed the scene and tried to remove him.
"Oh, my legs, can't you get the car off me?" Fluet groaned.
"We're working on it, sir," said one of the recruits, holding Fluet's wrist.
"My baby? Where's my baby?"
"Your baby's right here sir," said another recruit, cradling a plastic baby doll.
"I think he missed his calling," said Devin Kilbride, another returning firefighter, of Fluet while watching the scene with a grin.
Capt. Chris Brown, who was supervising the scene, also smothered a small smirk when Fluet began beating the hood of the car. When the team helped Fluet from between the cars and onto the ground he broke in with questions.
"So that car wasn't moved yet. Did you just rip his legs off?"
The firefighters moved the still-wailing Fluet onto a stretcher and began to stabilize his limbs.
"Why are you putting the neck brace on?" asked Brown.
"He might have hit his head when the car hit him," replied a trainee.
"He was holding the baby when the car hit him. Did the baby have any injuries?"
"So he doesn't have a neck injury. Remember, he might be waiting in the E.R. for a long time, and whatever gear they're wearing when they come in the doctors have to keep on until they treat him. You don't want him to have that on if he doesn't need it."
As Fluet cried on the stretcher, other teams of firefighters were performing CPR, practicing evacuations and examining gear. The total training was a week long, with days devoted to wildland firefighting and other skills. Once the firefighters go on to their assignments they will have a daily physical training regimen and be prepared to respond to disasters all over the state.
Training Coordinator Jennifer Scales said that like the firefighters, community members should also "prepare for the worst" this year. CALFIRE recommends conserving water, creating defensible space around homes, making sure their street numbers are visible and creating neighborhood evacuation plans. For more information about fire preparedness, click here