Steady and deliberate. That’s the approach taken by leaders at the CAL FIRE Training Center (CFTC) these days for providing a solid foundation for their firefighters. And, for the past 22 years, the Assistant Fire Chief training tower has been a cornerstone on their drill grounds, helping those trainers with their operational instructions.
“Our approach to training has simplified over the years,” says Battalion Chief Dave Semple with the Training Center for CAL FIRE in Ione, Calif. “We’re focusing on ‘back to basics’ that builds a strong base for our employees.”
Located in Amador County, 35 miles southeast of Sacramento, the Training Center sits on 420 acres and was established in 1967. Year-round training on structural firefighting based on California State Fire Training curriculum, emergency response, wildland command and control are all provided at the Training Center. The all-steel training tower from Fire Facilities is used to complement many areas of the training.
“The Assistant Fire Chief tower is used every month — and sometimes every week — in some capacity,” according to Semple. “During the past two decades it’s easy to calculate that several thousand firefighters have trained on the tower.”
Quality Training for All
At CFTC, Semple and Battalion Chief Brett Fucillo work for Division Chief of Fire Training Rob Wheatley. Together they create training scenarios that challenge firefighters and prepare them for what they’ll experience in their jobs throughout California.
“CAL FIRE provides extensive wildfire training to our employees,” says Semple. “However, most of the training involving the tower focuses on structural firefighting. We conduct search drills, deploy fire hoses, and raise ladders against the exterior of the tower. The annex section of the tower is used for burning. A big plus is that the tower has enough space to provide quality training to large group numbers.”
The Assistant Fire Chief has three separate areas: a four-story fire training tower, a residential section and a burn room annex. Multiple training scenarios are possible including rappelling, roof ventilation, high-angle rescue operations, forcible entry without penetrations and live fire burn scenarios.
“Overall, the Fire Facilities tower has held up well since its installation in 2001,” says Semple. “It wasn’t foreseen that the tower would experience this much use in 20+ years at CFTC. It’s currently in the process of some repairs, due to the high amount of use it’s been exposed to over time. However, we continue to use a large portion of the facility even during repairs. This tower is part of the backbone of our training program. We rely on it as a key element of training for our program participants.”