CHICO, Calif. - The Chico Fire Department is sharing why having more firefighters in the city is so important.
“We can’t get these guys on soon enough," said Deputy Chief, Chris Zinko. "We have had crazy wildfire seasons for the last five or six years. We are forcing people on, on a daily basis.”
Along with wildfires, the Chico Fire Department has lost many firefighters due to retirements over the past two years. The coronavirus pandemic has also presented its challenges.
“We have been running short," said Captain, Carlos Munoz. "Girls and guys and everyone in the department is working extra. People are working outside of their regular shift just to be able to maintain our minimum staffing on a daily basis. So as soon as we get these guys trained up and ready to hit the floor and prepared to start serving the community, It’s going to be great to have some relief for the current floor members.”
Munoz explained what the probationary firefighters are working on in training right now.
“Most likely, when you go to buildings, they have a stairwell you can access, and sometimes the stairwells are inaccessible, so we have to throw ladders on the exterior to access that,” said Munoz.
Probationary firefighter, Mike Healy, who is currently in his eight-week training shared what the training has been like so far.
“It’s been good so far," said Healy. "Last week, we worked on ladders, and then we actually addressed some of the mental health issues facing the fire service today. So the department has been really proactive regarding that and it is nice especially to see in our careers with this department to see them out getting ahead of the curve.”
Munoz said on the eighth week of training, the firefighters will get to experience real-life fire simulation.
“This will be the first Chico Fire Academy that we are going to have a live firebox at the end of the academy," said Munoz. "So, we will be able to simulate heat, smoke, no visibility and they will have to locate fires ad ventilate over the fire and they will have to search and find and rescue occupants.”
The fire academy finished ladder training last week and will finish their hose and water training by the end of this week.