March 21, 2023 – To state that the Clovis Fire Department only hosted a statewide training symposium would be making light of how far some have actually traveled.
For this year’s Clovis Fire Department Training Symposium, according to Deputy Fire Chief Chris Ekk, firefighters have traveled from several locations even from outside of California, including Hawaii all the way up to Canada.
These firefighters come to the Training Symposium at the Clovis Public Safety Training Center in order to sharpen their skills through eight different scenarios and multiple other classes provided at the training center.
Live fire training also gives firefighters the opportunity to understand how a fire burns, how it’s affected by water, and how they can control a fire through what Don Banta, Captain of Training calls “flow path”.
“It’s [the symposium] basically live fire training and advanced rescue–using ladders, going through windows, going through roofs, just kind of covering everything.”
Captain of Training Eric Connors added, “They also simulate a firefighter going through and how to rescue somebody out of a building”
In addition to this, fire instructors work on the ventilation process, in which they try to “create a chimney” allowing hot gasses to travel up and out of a burning building.
This in turn makes it easier to find the source of a fire in order to put it out. To do this, Clovis Fire has to buy and cut lumber placing it in the correct spots for simulation.
“Usually you only get one good year out of a prop before some of the main structure supports have to be repaired. The reason we use wood is because it’s easier to train on.” Banta emphasized that after one use, a prop used at the training facility has to be repaired annually, spiking costs of events like the symposium.
This specific Training Symposium held in March, according to the group of training captains, can get expensive when buying wood that’s needed for training. “Lumber costs have gone up…but that gives us the most realistic scenario.”
The reason that March is the selected month for the symposium comes due to the Covid-19 outbreak, when before, it used to take place in November.
Besides the training in March, the Clovis Public Safety Training Center hosts a number of other events such as Police Department K9 Training, PG&E training, FBI, Sheriff’s Office training, as well as trainings the Fresno City Firefighting program and Clovis Unified’s ROP program.
According to Brad Richter, Logistics Officer, and Eric Connors, Clovis Unified uses the prop three-story building for high school students engaged in the ROP and fire technology program.
Clovis Fire of course also uses the site for their own training throughout the year.
Last year, the Fire Department held two new hire academies at the site in addition to promotional exams, and joint wildland training. “There’s someone here almost everyday from the city of Clovis training,” says Brad Richter.
Don Banta reiterated, “I think what’s awesome about the City of Clovis is how open we are to training with other people. We share our stuff with them, they share their stuff with ours…We train very closely with Fresno, Fresno County, and it’s all motivated just to provide the best service to the city.”
The symposium lasts for about five days each March, and looks to continue annually as they have for a number of years.