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Colusa Fire Department hosts rare fire training

Firefighters from throughout California participate in live fire training at a donated house in Colusa on Sunday. Submitted photo/Richard Lau

A house to burn for live fire training comes along only once in a great while. When it does, firefighters throughout the state can converge on a community to take advantage of the education.

On May 14, Firefighters came from as far away as Southern California to receive live fire training, hosted by the Colusa Fire Department. The Lafayette Street house they trained on had been donated and prepared by local contractor Craig Hill and his son, Colusa Mayor Josh Hill.

“Craig made it easy,” said Colusa Fire Department Training Officer Dave Avera. “He provided everything we asked for. When you get a house, it’s a win-win for everyone involved. They get a house demolished – and we get a house to train on.”

Training started over a week ago with firefighters burning down a miniature house, the size of a large doll house, to learn how wind can control the movement of smoke and flames.

The old home on the corner of 2nd and Lafayette was burnt completely to the ground on Sunday under the watchful eyes of a Rapid Intervention Crew (RIC), a group of experienced firefighters that were on standby to rescue lost or trapped drill participants and suppress the fire if needed.

Colusa City Fire Department Chief Logan Conley hosted the live fire training in accordance with the National Fire Protection Association and the California State Fire Marshal’s Office.

Captain Steve Bristow, a State Fire Marshal master instructor, facilitated the live fire training for multiple fire departments.

Bristow said firefighters were taught everything from fire behavior to getting occupants out of the house, to ensuring their own survival. By the time they were done, about 60 firefighters obtained several required certifications over the 26 days total training (312 hours).

“They will have learned and reviewed over 500 skills,” Bristow said, before the training wrapped up.

Sacramento Fire Chief Dave Baldwin, Sacramento Firefighter Joe Hunter, Avera, and Colusa Fire Engineer Bo Salazar also facilitated the training. Sacramento River Fire Chief Jeff Winters provided the water tender.

Conley said live fire training is a necessary and indispensable tool for professional fire fighters. He was particularly excited that his own firefighters and the others had the opportunity for fire suppression training on a large structure.

“They also got the experience of working with other agencies and learning their techniques – and how they work together in the field,” Conley said.

Fire Departments participating, in addition to Colusa and Sac River, included Sacramento City Fire, San Ramon, San Diego, San Francisco, Tulare, UC Davis, Berkeley, San Pasqual, Scotts Valley, and Cal Fire.

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