Staffing levels at the Redding Fire Department are finally starting to rebound from cuts forced by the recession. In 2012, Fire Hall #2 two re-opened and last month three new firefighters were added to the department’s staff. Those numbers will continue to grow as additional cadets will wrap up training next week.
Before firefighters can attack the blaze east of Redding, they have to get to it. The flames are burning under a roof with a 45-degree pitch. As they precariously balance at its peak, smoke clouds their vision and they get to work.
“This is as close as we are going to get to real life experience in a training ground setting,” said Redding Deputy Fire Chief Gerry Gray.
This isn't an actual fire, but a drill cadets are put through as they train to join the Redding Fire Department.
“We were simulating that there was fire underneath and that we needed to ventilate the smoke and heat out of that structure,” said Cadet Bryson Jones.
Jones and other fire cadets have all graduated from a fire academy, but this month long training session shows them specifically how fires are fought in Redding.
“Our goal from this academy is not to surprise them with anything once they are assigned to the engine companies,” said Gray.
When fire fighters first start to train they use these chalk saws, which look exactly like chain saws. They draw a line across the roof where they would normally cut. By using these devices, its much safer than using a chain saw.
“We provide the smoke, we provide the environment, but nothing really will be as intense or as stressful to our personnel as the real thing,” said Gray.
“This is why we train so that we can do things in a controlled atmosphere,” said Jones.
Controlled now, but starting next Friday they be thrown in to real situations as they join the department.
The Redding Fire Department was able to hire nine new employees for two years thanks to a FEMA grant.