Fourteen firefighters from the Santa Clara Fire Department responded to the recent wildfires in Northern California according to Chief Bill Kelly. Their assignments lasted about eight days as they protected structures and helped people evacuate their homes. To educate the public about the work of a firefighter, the Santa Clara Fire Department hosted its annual Fire Station Open House on Saturday, Oct. 3. About 1,500 citizens participated.
“The goal of the open house this year is to kick off National Fire Prevention Week,” Kelly says. “So the open house event kicks off the weeklong event for us where we visit local schools to teach our kids how to be fire safe in their schools and at home. The open house allows citizens to see their fire stations and our latest state-of-the-art life-saving equipment that our firefighter paramedics are using. We also have fire prevention advice available.”
At Fire Station 2, at 1900 Walsh Avenue, open house attendees toured the facilities, learned about fire trucks, strolled past the drill ground, and peeked inside the Santa Clara Fire Museum behind the station.
Educating attendees about one of the fire trucks was volunteer reserve lieutenant Matthew Perez.
“The truck holds 500 gallons of water,” Perez says. “The truck also weighs 69,400 pounds. Our aerial ladder on top can go 105 feet in the air.”
Driver engineer Gordon Papalias and firefighter Beverly Molina gave a tour of the firefighters’ living facility which includes the kitchen, with its three refrigerators for the three different shifts and the sleeping quarters.
“Years ago, fire departments’ sleeping quarters were a large dorm room with many beds,” Molina says. “Now we have individual rooms and I have to say, I like the privacy. Each room now has two beds. We don’t share them [with our roommate] at the same time. We’re there in our rooms on different shifts.”
Behind the station is a drill ground where a number of demolished cars and test dummies rest.
“Mostly what we use the cars for is to practice our extrication skills, meaning we have to know how to use our tools to get the patient out of the car in the safest and quickest way possible,” Molina says. “In real life, we go to car fires. On the drill ground, sometimes we practice by burning up a car and putting a fire out.”
John Reagan came to Fire Station 2 with his son, Connor.
“We learned a lot today about this fire truck, how it can put out 1,500 gallons of water per minute [with the fire pump],” Reagan says. “We learned there are a lot of tools on board, such as the ‘jaws of life,’ what they use to cut people out of cars. We also learned we should get a new fire extinguisher every two years because they get old and become unreliable. That’s useful information.”