City Officials Pushed Their Bodies to the Limit as Pasadena “Firefighters For A Day”

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5:52 am | June 1, 2017

City officials and local civic leaders learned first hand what it means to be a Pasadena Firefighter Wednesday thanks to a new program called “Fire Ops 101″ which put the civilians in a day filled with controlled life-threatening scenarios that City firefighters face on a regular basis.

The immersive program gives decision-makers in the community the opportunity to live a day as a Pasadena Firefighter and is intended to help elected officials understand the challenges first responders face in staffing, equipment and response time and the physical and mental strength that they must possess.

“It’s a long day, but they are going to definitely have a good opportunity to feel the experience and understand what it takes to be a firefighter here in the City of Pasadena,” said Pasadena Fire Captain Robert Sepulveda Jr.

Wednesday’s rigorous outing is the first Fire Ops 101 in the San Gabriel Valley with the Pasadena Fire Department leading the way for community outreach and public education.

There were 18 participants in total which included Vice Mayor John Kennedy, Councilmembers Andy Wilson, Tyron Hampton, Field representatives Norene Sullivan, Vania de la Cuba, Margo Morales, Heads of City Departments and former city council candidates Felecia Williams and Robin Salzer.

“It’s very important because we need our politicians to know and our City officials to know the challenges we have to go through everyday with staffing and running a lot of medical calls and keeping up with all of our programs and making sure we are able to protect the public and let them know what it feels like to be a firefighter for a day,” said Sepulveda.

“We also want them to know what physical and mental strength it takes to be a firefighter,” explained Sepulveda who mentioned common situations such as working in claustrophobic and smoke filled environments and climbing tall aerial ladders.

The students geared up in traditional firefighting wear equipped with oxygen tanks heavy duty masks.

They were quickly placed in physically demanding scenarios that ranged from climbing ladders into a smoke filled room, cutting open burning cars, extinguishing real fires, performing CPR and more.

“Public safety is the most important thing that we provide to our community with police and fire and really understanding what they do everyday allows us to make sure they have the proper resources, staffing and equipment to keep them safe,” said District 7 Councilmember Andy Wilson.

“It gives me a new appreciation for how incredible these guys are and how lucky we are to have a firefighting team of this quality in our City. I am super grateful and I can sleep better at night knowing how well trained and equipped these guys are. I’m so happy to have had this experience,” Wilson added.

The atmosphere during the scenarios were chaotic–as they often are in real life–from wailing sirens to dozens of Firefighters performing assigned jobs in the heat of the moment.

“I got to the fourth floor and I couldn’t breathe. I had to pace myself. The physical toll it takes on your body as a firefighter, and I’ve done it for twenty minutes and some of these guys have done it for twenty, thirty years–this is a hard profession,” explained local business owner and former city council candidate Robin Salzer.

The participants walked away with a newfound perspective about the City’s first responders and what it requires both as an individual and as a department to operate successfully.

“This is basically fire science 101 and even at this level it is a complicated business and I think most residents are really not aware of how difficult it is to be a firefighter and to be a part of the fire science,” said Pasadena Vice Mayor and District 3 Councilmember John Kennedy.

“Our participation today is one way to help us be better educated about what our men and women do day in and day out to keep our community safe,” added Kennedy.