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Going behind-the-scenes with the Daisy Mountain Fire Department


Elizabeth Medora

NORTH VALLEY – Firefighters are the people we call for help in emergencies of all kinds. What does it take to be a firefighter? Multiple local residents are getting a behind-the-scenes look at the work of a firefighter through the Daisy Mountain Fire Department’s first Citizen Fire Academy.

Since the Citizen Fire Academy started in January, participants have been learning about how the fire department works, including taking ride-alongs with firefighters, participating in a drill, and getting CPR and First Aid certified. This course has been DMFD’s first Citizen Fire Academy; given the level of interest from the community, DMFD may host another Fire Academy next winter.

At the Feb. 4 class, Citizen Fire Academy participants practiced getting water to a scene: getting into full turnout gear, connecting fire hoses to fire hydrants, and spraying the fire hoses. Class members noted that this practice helped them better understand just what firefighters do on a call and how every person responding to the call has a specific role.

“We want to work through the whole experience with you so you get the most out of it,” said Paul Schickel, one of the Fire Academy instructors, as he directed course participants through preparation for the Feb. 4 firefighting drill. Schickel noted that class members could perform as much of the practice as they wanted to and that crew members would be by their side to help at all times.

Just getting into the required firefighting gear is no small feat – the protective gear, air pack included, weighs 75 pounds, Fire Captain Dave Jensen noted. As a Fire Academy instructor, Jensen helped give instructions on the process of getting into the gear. Jensen reported that, in the field, firefighters have to have “all gear on and be breathing air (via air pack) in one minute, 30 seconds.” DMFD firefighters are expected to be suited up in one minute, 10 seconds, and they’ll get suited up while riding in the firetruck en route to the emergency scene and while walking on-scene – no time wasted in suiting up. How do they do it? According to Jensen, “Practice, practice, practice.”

Once in turnout gear, participants of the Feb. 4 class headed out from the Anthem Civic Building and across Venture Drive to an empty parking lot to practice using the firefighting skills they’d been learning since the course began. With the help of DMFD crews, course participants each took on the role of a firefighter responding to an emergency scene. They hitched fire hoses to hydrants, ran hoses down the length of the parking lot, and sprayed the hose in the direction indicated, working as a team to fulfill their roles as part of their crew.

Daisy Mountain Fire cadets were on-hand to help class participants during the training and to practice their own firefighting skills. The cadet program is targeted to youth who are interested in firefighting; they get in-depth training on what it takes to be a firefighter. The program’s goal is to help these teens learn more about firefighting and “help them attain jobs in fire service,” cadet program coordinator Captain Matt Wood noted. The program is scheduled to take new recruits this spring; for more details, email

The camaraderie of the DMFD crews was clear as they worked with each other and the class members. Everyone has a role to fill, and they synchronize their efforts flawlessly to make sure the job gets done. Watching them work, it’s obvious how much their job and their crew means to them.

“I’ve never met a firefighter who didn’t love their job,” Schickel said, as class members discussed the DMFD crews’ collaboration and dedication.

After the firefighting drill, class members discussed what they’d learned from the hands-on training.

Class member Cyndi said that since starting the Citizen Fire Academy, she’s “thinking about being a firefighter now.” She noted the organization and skill of the crews, as well.

“Everything they do is for a reason,” Cyndi said, referring to the fire crews’ expert responses to emergencies.

Class member Neil noted that he had decided to get more involved in learning the ins and outs of Daisy Mountain Fire. The Citizen Fire Academy offered a behind-the-scenes take on their work, including observing crews in the field during a ride-along.

Class member Carmen joined the Citizen Fire Academy with her husband Brian. Carmen is new to the north valley, and said she joined the Fire Academy as a way to “find out more about the community.” She noted that the Fire Academy had been “so much fun” and that she had learned a great deal about the community’s first responders and what to do in an emergency, including learning CPR and First Aid. She described the Fire Academy instructors as doing a great job teaching, noting their patience and helpfulness.

Learning how the local fire department works and how responsive they are has been reassuring to Carmen as a new resident.

“It puts my mind at ease,” Carmen emphasized.