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Annual program gives citizens hands-on fire training

Action News Now's Cort Klopping signed up to be a citizen cadet in the Chico Citizens Fire Academy. Get an inside look at what the academy is all about.

Posted: May 23, 2019 11:31 AM
Updated: May 23, 2019 11:37 AM

CHICO, Calif. - We know they're the brave men and women who put themselves between you and dangerous situations, but that's only half of the story.

Curious residents like Audrey Denney wanted to know more about what it takes to be a firefighter.

"They're the first at the scenes and accidents,” Denney said. “They do a lot of medical visits, they obviously put out structure fires and wildland fires, but I didn't know at all what that felt like."

And the Chico Citizens Fire Academy is the perfect place to find out.

"This just really gives people the opportunity to really understand what we do," said Captain Andrew Oberg of the Chico Fire Department.

The Citizens Academy does come with a time commitment. Cadets spend two nights in a classroom setting learning about the history of the department dating back to 1873, lessons on fire behavior and are walked through why the department responds the way they do to different calls.

It was a learning experience Cadet Jill Hendry found fascinating.

"It was also really neat to hear how much research has played into the new roles and how they're embracing that and taking that technology, and taking that information to make a safer place for themselves," Hendry said. 

After two nights in the classroom, cadets are brought out to the fire training facility at Butte College for a full day of hands-on training.

"It's like kids in a candy store,” said Chico Fire Chief Steve Standridge. “They get to do things they've only maybe seen on TV. Rappelling off the top of a building, conquering the fear of rappelling."

The day-long training is extensive. Firefighters trained groups of four in rappelling, running, shooting fire hoses, hazmat protocol, medical procedures, vehicle extrication, and how to handle yourself in a smoke-filled building. At the end of the day, they got to sit inside of a burning structure to observe fire behavior.

Cadets said they'd highly recommend others attend the academy, and Chief Standridge told Action News Now the department has made this an annual program.

The next Chico Citizens Fire Academy will be in one year. The application period for the next academy will be late winter or early spring of 2020.

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