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CHICO, Calif. - Some people dream of becoming a firefighter but do they really know what it takes to become one?
"I think I know what firefighters do,” Chico City councilmember Kami Denlay said. “You think you know since you were a little kid. You know they are heroes, and you know everything they do and then you get into it and you realize there are all these tiny little faceted points to it that make the whole thing work."
That's why Chico Fire holds its annual Citizens Academy.
"It is just gratifying to see them talk about topics that they are passionate about and proficient at,” Chico Fire Chief, Steve Standridge said. “So it is really a proud moment to watch our firefighters take that opportunity to share what they know with our community."
Action News Now Reporter Dani Masten took that opportunity to get firsthand experience of what it is like to be a firefighter. People got to experience it all, including medical calls, cutting a victim out of a vehicle, to also working with heavy fire hoses
"So in the fire service we kind of have to be a jack of all trade,” Captain for Chico Fire, Corey Broin said. “It is an all-risk department. At any moment we could be at a fire or at a traffic collision."
Engineer for Chico Fire, Kristy Gregory, explained how they have to learn what hose lines are pulled for each situation “and how we get water from the fire engine into the pump," Gregory said. "Initially, when we get there we pull this big whole five-inch and we connect it to the hydrant."
"They are so heavy when they are filled with water and you have to direct them,” Denlay explained at the Citizens Academy. “They are doing this while trying to fight a fire. I am just trying to hit a grate in the road."
One of the things citizens did at the fire academy was climbing all the way to the top of a tower and repelled their way down. Firefighters said it takes hundreds of hours to master this.
"We simulate sending people over the edge to help rescue a potential fall victim,” Chico Fire rescue team leader Travis Eagan said.
Denlay and City Manager, Mark Orme, said the Citizens Academy helps them understand how hard Chico firefighters work and train.
“It heightens the level of respect that you have to have for the men and woman of Chico Fire rescue," Orme said.
"The physicality is just so insane and then put the stress on top of it of rescuing people and knowing that lives are at stake, it's just impressive,” Denlay said.
"When they are done with this there is just this new sense of appreciation for what we do and an understanding so you guys can become our ambassadors as well,” Standridge said.
At the end of the academy, for the first time ever, citizens went into a live burn box to see what it's like to face a real fire.
Chico Fire held its first Citizens Academy in 2018.