Desert area firefighters have hot time training in Twentynine Palms

21 Jun 2002 | Cpl. Julie A. Paynter

The Combat Center Fire Department hosted fire training for local fire departments in the Marine Palms housing development June 15.

The CCFD provided the opportunity for its new firefighters, firefighters from Twentynine Palms Fire Department, San Bernardino County Fire Department, Northrop Grumman Fire Department and the Joshua Tree National Park Service, to practice interior fire attacks and interior burn tactics.
The fire department is training in Marine Palms before contractors begin rebuilding the vacant homes on Copper Street.

"The opportunity to burn acquired structures is rare," said Assistant Fire Chief Mark Zietz, Combat Center Fire Department.  "We have a lot of new people who haven't had the chance or the experience [of training in a live fire situation]."

Zietz, Lt. John Lyon and Fire Captain Dave Adams coordinated the 36-man event along with the assistance of the two crews at the CCFD.  Six teams of six firefighters practiced interior fire attacks in conjunction with hydraulic-ventilation techniques.  Firefighters pre-cut holes in the roofs of each structure.  Next, after setting the fire, firefighters crawled inside to make their attack and then sprayed water through the vent hole to draw out the smoke and gases.

"Water draws the heat and gases out with it," said Zietz.  "Behind the water, cold air rushes out, drawing the smoke, air and gases."

The area around the ceilings reached close to 1500 degrees during the training exercise.

"They did perfect," said Zietz.  "We made it through the entire day, with 18 total burn evolutions and only one minor injury.  The outside agencies made a point of thanking Lt. John Lyon personally for a truly exceptional training experience."

"They did very well considering the heat," said Engineer Shawn Djerf, Twentynine Palms Fire Department.  "Not only were they dealing with 1,200- to 1,400-degree temperatures inside, but they had to deal with the hot temperatures outside.  I've been to quite a few training exercises and I was impressed.  I have a lot of gratitude for [Combat Center] fire for having us participate in their training burn.  It builds up confidence in our guys."

"We hope to have local Morongo Basin and San Bernardino County fire departments back for more training later this summer," said Zietz.  "It helps develop a strong working relationship between the departments."

"I've been to a lot of training exercises, but I've never been able to be a part of the training staff,? said Djerf.  "This taught me how to deal with safety concerns dealing with fire safety equipment and individual safety of personnel in regards to dehydration and making sure everybody is accounted for."

CCFD hopes in the future to coordinate some cross training with Northrop Grumman Fire Department in aircraft fire fighting.

Next, the CCFD is practicing search and rescue techniques with larger interiors fires.  They begin the permit process for another burn toward the end of the month.

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