The Big Bear City Fire Department this week celebrated the grand opening of their firefighter training facility, which is located at the Paradise Way maintenance yard property owned by the Big Bear City Community Services District. In a presentation before the CSD Board of Directors this week, Fire Captain Dave Delay explained that the facility, a dream of firefighters since 2007, has come together with the donations and contributions of the community. “Firemen love to train,” Delay noted—and now they can, as the Paradise Training Facility now boasts three levels, enabling the simulation of real-life residential and commercial structure fires. Local fire agencies, including paid-call and volunteer firefighters, use the training structure to perform rescue drills, ladder rescues, and live fire interior attacks in the low heat, high smoke facility. In the past, firefighters had to go off the mountain to participate in such exercises but now, per Big Bear City Fire Chief Jeff Willis, all agencies—including the Big Bear Lake Fire Department, the San Bernardino County Fire Department, the U.S. Forest Service, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department and the Community Emergency Response Team—can train in this local and controlled environment. Adds Chief Willis, “It really is important that we all train together because, when a disaster strikes, we’re all involved. We rely on each other, so joint training is part of the plan.” To that end, residents may be reassured to know, our local fire agencies adhere to the same policies and use the same radios, in order to streamline emergency efforts in the Big Bear Valley. Though additions to the Paradise Training Facility have been budgeted into future spending by the Big Bear City Fire Department, Captain Delay notes that it wouldn’t be what it is today without the donations of time and material from welder Drew Ryan, Vince Smith of Riffenburgh Lumber, Pete Schroder and Sons Crane Services, Glenn Butcher of Butcher’s Block, Steve Schindler of BBARWA, Ken Willis Construction, Captain Greg Garland of the Big Bear Sheriff’s Station, Southwest Gas, and staff of the Community Services District.
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