Eel River Valley Fire Academy kicks off 2012 training' sponsors include local insurance agencies

Heather Nyberg-Schlotzhauer

Beacon Correspondent

Another year has come and gone and the Eel River Valley Fire Academy is in full swing for 2012 training.

Local fire departments have joined forces to participate in an extensive training program to promote safety and training in our area sponsored by local area insurance agents.

This year's training includes fire departments from Rio Dell, Ferndale, Loleta, Fortuna, Bridgeville, Carlotta, and Scotia. Fortuna will also have participants from the Fortuna Fire Departments Explorer Program and fire crew members from the California Conservation Corp.

Our local departments in the county are made up of primarily volunteers who sacrifice their time to keep our communities safe. While many of us are sitting around the dinner table with our families they are responding to the sound of the alarm leaving their families in their wake. Our communities have shown and continue to show support of the great individuals and their families.

According to Fortuna Volunteer Fire Department Chief Lon Winburn, "The fire academy is designed to bring new firefighters into compliance with National Fire Protection Association training standards. This is to ensure that they can operate both safely and efficiently on the fire ground and or rescue scene. The training focuses on entry level structural firefighting and rescue training for the local volunteer firefighters."

NFPA reports on its website,, "NFPA develops, publishes, and disseminates more than 300 consensus codes and standards intended to minimize the possibility and effects of fire and other risks. Virtually every building, process, service, design, and installation in society today is affected by NFPA documents."

Fortuna Assistant Fire Chief Rus Brown oversees the academy in Fortuna, which he said "has proven to be very successful since its probationary academy in Fortuna back in 2005."

Training sessions are hosted on Thursday evenings and most Saturdays though the months of March and April at the various fire department locations in the Eel River Valley. After completion of the training, students will have received 64 hours of basic firefighter training in several areas including ladder operations, firefighter survival, auto extraction, and fire behavior.

The Eel River Valley Fire Academy and all of its participants are greatly appreciative of the sponsorships from local agents to provide this training to local volunteer firefighters. Local agent sponsorships were provided by Bill Becker and Don Becker of Becker Insurance Agency in Ferndale, Tom Cox of Capitol Insurance Group in Ferndale, Don Brown of State Farm Insurance in Fortuna, Bob Walker of Harbers Insurance Agency in Fortuna, Lisa Losey and Christine Huston of Gates & Associates Insurance Agency (a division of George Peterson Insurance Agency) in Fortuna, Kevin Hansen of Farmers Insurance Group in Fortuna, and Tom & Donna Ross of Farmers Insurance Group in Fortuna.

Thanks to the sponsorships the student firefighters not only receive extensive training, but will also receive training manuals, materials for various training, props including ventilation and firefighter survival tactics.

Chief Winburn summarizes, "The academy is a win-win for both local fire agencies as well as the insurance companies by providing the training necessary to safely and efficiently mitigate emergencies which will help to lessen overall costs of insurance claims."

For more information about the Eel River Valley Fire Academy or to help sponsor local training you can contact Fortuna Fire Protection, District Fire Chief Lon Winburn at 725-5021.

photo captions:

photos by Heather Nyberg-Scholtzhauer/Beacon

During training students practice nozzle operations which also include an understanding of the fire and what spray will effectively combat the flames.