Hands-on wildfire training with the Colorado Springs Fire Department

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COLORADO SPRINGS – With wildfire season around the corner, the Colorado Springs Fire Department is getting a new class of recruits ready to hit the line.

Loading up the truck and heading to an uncontrolled fire is something Colorado Springs Fire crews are ready to take on. Friday’s training is all about getting them ready for any wildfire scenario.

“We’re really trying to give them a basis for what they’re going to actually do. It’s one thing to have a book and read it in the academy. It’s way different to come out here and put hands on hoses,” said Lieutenant Jason McFerran, with CSFD Station 4.

Around 30 trainees are putting their classroom skills to the test and getting the hands-on experience they need to fight wildfires.

“We get to take our tools out and dig some line, get familiar with our apparatuses and all the tools that we use out here in the wildland interface,” said Richard Wallace, CSFD Academy trainee.

They’re honing skills they’ll use on the job. They practice skills including digging lines that will stop a fire from spreading, finding ways to protect buildings, pumping water from nearby sources just to name a few.

“How we can make it work. How we can pull water out of a pond, a pool so that they can assist our driver engineers with doing that and making sure we have water to go out the hoses,” said Lieutenant McFerran.

It’s the first time all crews have trained together since the stay-at-home order.

“We actually cancelled all training for two months. You could only train with your fire station crew. We just now started again with multiple crews training. Everything has changed. What we wear to medicals, how many people go in on medicals. We’re taking temperatures twice a day, checking symptoms, masks all day in the station.”

The CSFD academy switched to online classes for 5 weeks.

“It was definitely a learning curve. It was unfortunate because we lost out on a lot of hands-on training but we were able to get all of our classroom time done,” said Mike Dotson, a CSFD Academy trainee.

Months of work for these CSFD trainees leads up to this wildland firefighter training. And they’re ready for whatever the job may bring.

“I love it. I’m so excited. You know, it’s awesome being out here and getting to see another side of the firefighting world. And I’m just excited to finish up in a couple weeks and hit the line,” said Wallace.

“I think all of us are ready to be done. We’re ready to go get to work, get out on the line, continue our training throughout the rest of the year and the rest of our careers,” said Dotson.

“So when the next one happens, whether it’s big or small, we’re able to mitigate that threat very easily,” said Lieutenant McFerran.

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