Every Orange County firefighter is being retrained when it comes to fighting fires.
New research shows old tactics may not be the most efficient. The goal is to save more lives.
By combining national standards and science, Orange County Fire Rescue’s assistant chief of operations, J. Brian Morrow, believes these new tactics will prove that some older techniques weren’t the best way to knock down a fire.
“We always thought we could take a hose line if we attack it from the outside and push the fire through the building. Well, that’s not true,” Morrow said.
About 1,100 firefighters will be retrained. With these new strategies, firefighters hope to make fires more survivable for people in Orange County.
“We’re going to let them see flow path, how our water streams tremendously affect the temperatures of the room,” said Lt. Ralph Astarita, with Orange County Fire Rescue.
The first exercise included an everyday task that is new to firefighter training: Closing a door.
By reducing the supply of oxygen, the flames have less fuel to spread. In the past, this step may have been bypassed as crews simply started dousing water on the flames.
“Being able to read smoke a little bit better, it gives us more than just one way to fight a fire,” said firefighter Winston Holton.
Another new concept: Immediately hitting a house with water before going inside.
“It’s cooling the room so fast, where it would take us two to three minutes to get interior with the line. For victims inside, it’s much faster to just hit it from outside,” Astarita said.
The training is designed to improve what firefighters have been doing for years.
Orange County Fire Rescue said it will take until the end of the year to train every firefighter. Exercises will take place almost six days a week.
The cost of the training is part of a $3.7 million training budget for the Orange County Fire Rescue fiscal year.
The training will be conducted in addition to regular duties, such as responding to fires and saving lives. The budget is funded by taxpayers, but there will be some grant money going towards the program.