CONCORD (KPIX) – Contra Costa Fire Assistant Chief, Chris Bachman was watching the department’s 2019 Fire Academy Class as they worked through their final phase of training.
“We’re doing some control burning, getting our recruits some hands on experience, getting them the feel of what it’s going to be like and what they can expect this summer,” says Chief Bachman.
It is a controlled live burn, final training for Recruit Academy 53, in four-foot-tall burning brush. Contra Costa County is covered in it! This is real fire, real danger.
Shane Neveau is Tuesday’s Incident Commander for the exercise.
“Even taller brush than we had in the past. It’s thicker, taller and it’s drying out really fast. One small little spark can really do a lot of damage,” says Cmdr. Neveau.
Chief Bachman says the firefighter’s nightmare is just around the corner — 4th of July.
“We’ll have a demonstration here shortly to show how fast even just a sparkler can get out of control putting your home or your neighbor’s home at risk,” says Chief Bachman.
In seconds, they demonstrated how the sparkler fire required a brush rig to extinguish.
Public Information Officer Steve Hill predicts, “This is going to be a tough year, this year. Don’t use fireworks!”
Many firefighters are also paramedics, which brings us to another danger.
“There’s no such thing as a safe and sane firework. There was a gentleman in Antioch, last July 5th, who lost most of both of his hands as a result of him trying to reignite a spent firework the morning after the 4th of July,” says Hill.
Fireworks danger has already started. This week in Antioch, half dozen homes were nearly burned when a large M-80 firecracker ignited the field behind the neighborhood. Firefighters needed foam to get it under control.
The long hot summer is just getting started.