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Sonoma County Gazette
Fire Training

West County Wildland Fire Training

Aug 31, 2017


.On August 10th, firefighters from Bodega, CAL FIRE, Gold Ridge, Graton, Occidental, and Sebastopol participated in a comprehensive wildland firefighting exercise. Thanks to the Trappe Ranch for letting us practice on their land, we were able to train on many of the tasks we face during wildland fire.

Fire crews discussed wildland/urban interface strategy and tactics and practiced deploying shelters, which are a last-ditch effort in case firefighters are overcome by the fire. Next, fire engines simulated structure defense around homes threatened by an approaching fire. Then, firefighters “cut” handline by using shovels and other tools to create a fire break of bare earth to stop a fire from continuing. Finally, fire engines and crews practiced mobile attack by driving and spraying water at the same time; when the crews could no longer drive, they switched to a progressive hose lay and continued another 600+ feet of firefighting into where the engines could not reach.

This type of training is invaluable for our firefighters! Most of those participating are volunteers, who do this to serve and defend their community. We practice so that we are ready... whether the need is in our fire districts, our neighbors, or anywhere in California. Again, many thanks to the Trappe Ranch for allowing us the opportunity to drive all over their land, use our tools, etc. It’s only through the great community that we can train effectively.

Cooking Fire Safety

Cooking equipment, most often a range or stovetop, is the leading cause of reported home fires and home fire injuries in the United States. Cooking equipment is also the leading cause of unreported fires and associated injuries. It is a recipe for serious injury or even death to wear loose clothing (especially hanging sleeves), walk away from a cooking pot on the stove, or leave items that can catch fire, such as potholders or paper towels, around the stove.

Choose the Right Equipment and Use It Properly

• Always use cooking equipment tested and approved by a recognized testing facility.

• Follow manufacturers’ instructions and code requirements when installing and operating cooking equipment.

• Plug microwave ovens and other cooking appliances directly into a wall outlet. Never use an extension cord for a cooking appliance – it can overload the circuit and cause a fire.

Use Barbecue Grills Safely

• Never leave a barbecue grill unattended.

• Place the grill well away from siding, deck railings and out from under eaves and overhanging branches. Do not use or store on a porch or balcony.

• Place the grill a safe distance from lawn games, play areas and foot traffic.

• Keep children and pets away from the grill area. Have a 3-foot “kid-free zone” around the grill.

• Put out several long-handled grilling tools to give the chef plenty of clearance from heat and flames when cooking food.

• Periodically remove grease or fat buildup in trays below grill so it cannot be ignited by a hot grill.

• Use only outdoors! If used indoors, or in any enclosed spaces, such as tents, barbecue grills pose both a fire hazard and a risk of exposing occupants to carbon monoxide.

Charcoal Grills

• Purchase the proper starter fluid and store out of reach of children and away from heat sources.

• Never add charcoal starter fluid when coals or kindling have already been ignited, and never use any flammable liquid other than charcoal starter fluid to get the fire going.

• Dispose of charcoal coals only after they are cool. Empty the coals into a metal container with a tight-fitting lid that is used only to collect coals. Place the container away from anything that can burn. Never empty coals directly into a trash can.

Propane Grills 

• Check the propane cylinder hose for leaks before using it for the first time each year. A light soap and water solution applied to the hose will reveal escaping propane quickly by releasing bubbles.

• If you determined your grill has a gas leak by smell or the soapy bubble test and there is no flame: 1) Turn off the propane tank and grill, 2) If the leak stops, get the grill serviced by a professional before using it again. If the leak does not stop, call the fire department.

• If you smell gas while cooking, immediately get away from the grill and call the fire department. Do not attempt to move the grill.

• All propane cylinders manufactured after April 2002 must have overfill protection devices (OPD). OPDs shut off the flow of propane before capacity is reached, limiting the potential for release of propane gas if the cylinder heats up. OPDs are easily identified by their triangular-shaped hand wheel.

• Use only equipment bearing the mark of an independent testing laboratory. Follow the manufacturers’ instructions on how to set up the grill and maintain it.

• Never store propane cylinders in buildings or garages. If you store a gas grill inside during the winter, disconnect the cylinder and leave it outside.

• Light a propane grill only with the cover open.

Watch What You Heat 

• The leading cause of fires in the kitchen is unattended cooking.

• Stay in the kitchen when you are frying, grilling, or broiling food. If you leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn off the stove.

• If you are simmering, baking, roasting, or boiling food, check it regularly, remain in the home while food is cooking, and use a timer to remind you that you are cooking.

• Stay alert! To prevent cooking fires, you have to be alert. You will not be if you are sleepy, have been drinking alcohol, or have taken medicine that makes you drowsy.

Keep Things That Can Catch Fire and Heat Sources Apart 

• Keep anything that can catch fire - potholders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper or plastic bags, food packaging, towels, or curtains - away from your stovetop.

• Keep the stovetop, burners, and oven clean.

• Keep pets off cooking surfaces and nearby countertops to prevent them from knocking things onto the burner.

• Wear short, close-fitting or tightly rolled sleeves when cooking. Loose clothing can dangle onto stove burners and catch fire if it comes into contact with a gas flame or electric burner.

How and When to Fight Cooking Fires   

• When in doubt, just get out. When you leave, close the door behind you to help contain the fire. Call 9-1-1 after you leave.

• If you do try to fight the fire, be sure others are already getting out and you have a clear path to the exit.

• Always keep an oven mitt and a lid nearby when you are cooking. If a small grease fire starts in a pan, smother the flames by carefully sliding the lid over the pan (make sure you are wearing the oven mitt). Turn off the burner. Do not move the pan. To keep the fire from restarting, leave the lid on until the pan is completely cool.

• In case of an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed to prevent flames from burning you or your clothing.

• If you have a fire in your microwave oven, turn it off immediately and keep the door closed. Never open the door until the fire is completely out. Unplug the appliance if you can safely reach the outlet.

After a fire, both ovens and microwaves should be checked and/or serviced before being used again.


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