|From left: Pete Gordon (US Forest Service) talks about an all-hazards incident to firefighters attending the weeklong Prescott Area Fire Training Groupís fifth annual Captains Academy Friday. Pictured from left are Gordon, Rob Zazueta (Chino Valley Fire District), Sean Kauffman (WIlliamson Valley Fire District), Dan Bates ( Prescott Fire Department), Tim Armenta (Sedona Fire District), Justin Simmons (Northwest Fire District), Boyd Lewis (Golden Valley Fire District). Firefighters rotated through classes about dealing with hazmat rollovers, engine training, a sandbox model exercise on wildland fires, and human resources issues, said Phil Cox, organizer of the event.|
Special to the Review
When Prescott National Forest Service Fire Staff Officer Pete Gordon asked firefighters what they made of the two barrels found in a wooded area, Northwest firefighter/paramedic Justin Simmons said it looked like it was a dumping place.
"This is a popular spot," Gordon said.
Students at the captains academy presented by the Prescott Area Fire Training Group talked about whether the barrels could contain hazardous material, the fire danger to the wildland area, and what challenges they would face getting their equipment to the scene.
"Local people can also give us a lot of information when we go in," said Williamson Valley firefighter Sean Kauffman.
Thirty-nine firefighters from across the state, including some from Chino Valley Fire District, attended the captains academy in Prescott Valley this week to learn more and meet requirements before testing to become a captain, Chino Valley Capt. Phil Cox said.
Many of the students serve as acting captains on their crew, or are firefighters and engineers training to become captain, Cox said.
"Prescott Area Fire Training Group identifies local needs, and holds the training here so people don't have to travel or spend a lot out of pocket," Cox said.
Similar captains academies in the state can cost $500 for the week, while the whole session held at Central Yavapai Regional Training Academy costs just $150, because Prescott Area Fire Training Group's fundraisers help reduce out-of-pocket costs for firefighters, Cox said.
"The group also paid full tuition for four firefighters, thanks to a portion of the funds raised from the craft fair last summer, silent auction and water sales," Cox said.
On Friday, students rotated through several simulations of situations they'd respond to during their tests for captain. Earlier in the week, students took part in discussions and hands on activities with twenty local fire officers, Cox said.
During one simulation, firefighters served as incident commander at a fire calls at a commercial structure.
"Commercial structure fire at 3045 Longlook Drive, Engines 1, 2,3, Truck 1 and Battalion 3," said Prescott Fire Capt. Jim Kennedy, portraying a dispatcher.
Soon after that Casa Grande Capt. Andrew Miller, who was serving as incident commander, called out "Engine 1 on scene of a multifamily commercial building with smoke and flames on the northeast side."
As Miller reported to dispatch, dispatch was calling the utility companies, law enforcement, ambulances, the Trauma Intervention Program and a fire investigator to the scene, Cox said.
Then Miller called for assistance to help evacuate residents from the second floor.
In one of the human resource simulations, a captain let firefighters on his crew know they had to comply with administrative orders they did not agree with.
Prescott firefighter Wade Ward complained about having to wear his hat so Chino Valley Engineer Brian Dalton told him they had to, whether they liked it or not, because it was now policy. When Ward protested some more, Dalton pointed out they could research it and then present their findings to the policy committee, but until that time they had to follow policy and wear their hats.
Along with firefighters from Central Yavapai, Chino Valley, Prescott, Mayer, Williamson Valley, Groom Creek and Yavapai College, other students came from Casa Grande, Lake Havasu, Golden Valley, Drexel Heights, Christopher-Kohl, Sedona, Bullhead City, and Northwest Fire.
The captains academy had a waiting list of over 20 people, and the session was filled by Sept. 7, Cox said.
"We all have an increased need for training, even as our fire budgets are being reduced," Cox said.