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SBFD Training Exercise
updated: May 14, 2013, 1:04 PM

By the Urban Hikers

Thanks to the generosity of a local homeowners, eight Fire Department trainees had an opportunity to learn and practice their firefighting techniques in a picture-perfect setting.

Tom and Barbara Sanborn, two local architects who are planning a demolition and rebuild on their property off Mission Ridge Road, offered their two cottages to the Fire Department for training purposes. Over the course of the two-day training, new recruits were able to log about 20 hours of practical training.

The trainees were given an opportunity to practice a variety of firefighting techniques on a building that we understand had served as a speakeasy during Prohibition, and was later operated as a licensed dance hall, probably into the 1940's. It sure would be fun to know more about that. But we digress....

Some of the basic techniques practiced by the trainees were search and rescue, ventilation techniques, ladder and roof techniques and laying the hoses. The training allowed recruits to work in full gear, with compressed air while honing their skills with many of the tools used in firefighting. There was no actual fire during this training.

Using proper ventilation techniques is an essential firefighting skill for many reasons. It maximizes the introduction of fresh air into a burning building and also allow hot gasses to escape. These life-saving techniques are vital for occupants who may be trapped inside a burning building. Proper ventilation also allows firefighters visibility inside a burning building and helps reduce the chances of "blow back" which can and does kill firefighters in the course of their work.

Trainees also got the opportunity to practice with chain saws, axes and other equipment. While chainsaws are fast and efficient, during the course of fighting an actual fire, the chains often break when chainsaws are used for cutting into roofs and walls. Nails, screws, rebar and other chainsaw "unfriendly" building materials can stop the ventilation process by damaging the chainsaw.

At the end of the two-day training exercises, the Sandnborns hosted a taco lunch for firefighters, the media and other spectators on Tuesday afternoon. What great neighbors they are!

If you plan on demolishing a building and would like to offer the use of your property to the SBFD for a similar training, please call Santa Barbara Fire Department's Fire Prevention Bureau and find out more. They would appreciate the opportunity to further train and practice in a realistic setting.

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