Firefighters get hands-on training

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By Don Pace

One fire chief says many firefighters aren’t all that comfortable around fire. Perhaps that changed for some last week.

During a first-of-its-kind training exercise, firefighters inched their way toward a flame and its heat in an effort that included members of fire departments from all over the county.

The exercise, sponsored by the San Miguel County Fire Chiefs Association, featured classroom instruction and a field exercise, which was held last week at Luna Community College.

Gallinas Fire Chief George Asi Jr. said, “This is the first event of this sort where we gather all the fire departments and conduct this propane training.”

Asi said area firefighters have gone through this kind of training before but in smaller numbers. The Gallinas, La Placitas, Sapello, Tecolote, El Pueblo, Trementina and Cabo Lucero fire departments took part in the training.

“This kind of exercise is pretty intimidating. We’re all volunteers and have other jobs. The majority of our firefighters are not even close to being comfortable around fire, and here they are getting up close and personal with fire. It’s very intimidating and stressful, but we did it to make everybody aware of what to do when they encounter flames like that,” Asi said.

Asi said he was pleased with the exercise. More than 50 firefighters took part in the classroom portion of the training, and 36 students and six instructors participated in the actual burn.

Asi said Ferrell Gas donated a portion of the propane for the training and a discounted price for the rest.