North Bay firefighters offer inside look to their work as fire season looms

SANTA ROSA – Fire season is almost officially here. As firefighters all over the Bay Area prepare for what’s expected to be another rough year, firefighters in the North Bay gave an inside look at what they will be going through in the months to come.

On Wednesday a “Fire Ops 101” event was held in Santa Rosa, which gave a firsthand look at being a firefighter. Community leaders took part, along with KPIX 5 reporter Andrea Nakano.

The first call of the day was to enter a burning building with the goal of knocking down the fire within the first five minutes. After that, the risk of injury or even death increases by four times when a flashover occurs.

Participants in a “Fire Ops 101” event in Santa Rosa go into a burning building, May 25, 2022.


Participants were fitted with all of the protective gear and an oxygen tank.

Jack Thomas, president of the Professional Firefighters of Sonoma County, said, “I never knew how heavy the gear was. I think that is the number one thing that everybody says to us.”

Santa Rosa City Manager Maraskeshia Smith took part in the event. When she finished the first exercise, she was thinking of the firefighters who risk their lives every day.

“At the end of the day, I just want them to get out. I want them to get home, I want them to get to their families,” Smith said.

Fire Ops 101 is put together by the Professional Firefighters of Sonoma County. Participants are put through medical aid calls. They also learned how to use the tools to rescue a driver trapped in a car.

What may have been the most interesting was to understand how technology is now helping firefighters do their jobs. A sim table gathers data from several different sources to predict the path of a wildfire.

This tool gives fire departments the information it needs to send out resources where they are needed the most.

“When you’re actually mimicking the situation that they have to deal with every day, I think it makes you more aware of what they have to deal with,” Smith said.

Thomas said, “What I would like everybody to know is firefighting is a tough job. Our firefighters are on the front lines every single day doing this.”

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