California Professional Firefighters

Alameda Co. Elected Officials, Candidates Feel the Heat at FireOps 101

Dozens of elected officials, candidates and journalists got a front-row view of the fire service this summer, thanks to Alameda County Fire Fighters Association, Local 55’s FireOps 101.

Held in mid-September at Alameda County’s San Leandro training tower, this year’s FireOps 101 saw more than 40 officials gather to try their hand at the activities that men and women of the fire service are called upon to do on a daily basis. This year’s attendees included members of the Alameda County Board of Supervisors, members and staff from the state Legislature, elected and appointed officials from city’s that contract with the Alameda County Fire Department, as well as all candidate that were being endorsed by Local 55.

For many, it was their first look into the firefighter profession.

“Everyone who attends walks away with a new level of respect for firefighters and the work that they do,” said Alameda County Firefighters Association, Local 55 President Sean Burrows. “The feedback we get is tremendous.”

While Alameda County has been hosting FireOps 101 for years, one of the news aims for this year’s installment was to demonstrate the “added value” services provided by the Alameda County Fire Department, included HazMat training, urban search and rescue, heavy rescue capabilities and swift water rescue.

“We wanted to demonstrate that what our contract agencies get with us is more than what they would get elsewhere,” Burrows said.

By allowing key decision makers the opportunity to take part in these highly technical activities, FireOps 101 hopes to not only create respect for the profession, but also provide a better understanding of how valuable a trained, professional fire service is to the community.

With supervisors, mayors, city managers and others in attendance, this new level of understanding can pay dividends for both the local and the department.

“To put these officials in an environment where they’re not comfortable, and show them what we do on a daily basis, allows them to take a whole new perspective back to their office,” Burrows said. “When it comes time to make decisions on things like staffing or the budget, that added perspective really makes a difference.”

This story originally appeared in CPF’s quarterly newspaper. To access a digital version of the paper on your Apple phone or tablet, click here.