ODF firefighters practicing communication at live burn training

Central Point, Ore. — Around 50 ODF firefighters participated in a live burn exercise Friday, burning more than 30 acres. It’s the last thing to check off their list after completing two weeks of fire school.

“That first engine, those first eyes on a fire, it’s their duty to communicate back to dispatch all the rest of their crew – what the fire looks like,” said Melissa Cano, Oregon Department of Forestry.

“The fire size, how big the flame length is, wind conditions,” said Tate Stevens, third-year ODF firefighter.

“All of those things are going to help create a visual for all those firefighters on deck so they know what they’re coming to,” Cano said.

One of the biggest things firefighters studied Friday is communication.

“If they can’t communicate with each other, and our dispatch, then that chain is broken,” Cano said.

“Teamwork and communication are huge for putting out fires around here,” Stevens said.

“Well, what do you do if an engine has a flat tire? Who else is responding? How else do you communicate that back and make sure that that group is out of the way and next incoming firefighters are ready to respond,” Cano said.

“Things can happen and this can really simulate that,” Stevens said.

Stevens said he can still vividly remember his rookie year.

“Like drinking from a fire hose – there’s a lot of information that comes at you that you need to learn and it comes at you fast. We only have two weeks of fire school,” Stevens said.

Now, as he returns a little more seasoned — he knows the importance of Friday’s live training.

“The main fire fighting activity that we are going to do is communicate with each other, put the fire out, and contain the situation,” Stevens said.

Firefighters continued to burn until 2 p.m. Friday. They stayed for a couple hours after to mop up any hot spots.

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