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As It Was: Redding Community College Offers Firefighter Academy

Forest fires had plagued Northern California for years before the Shasta-Tehama-Trinity Joint Community College District passed a $139 million bond issue in 2016 that included funds to build two fire training towers on its Redding campus.

The college opened the towers in February 2019, less than a year after one of the worst fires in regional history, the Carr Fire, burned 229,000 acres and incinerated nearly 1,100 homes in and around Redding, Calif.  Eight people died, including four firefighters, in the violent conflagration. 

The fire training towers are part of the college’s regional Public Safety Training Center, which runs an 18-week Firefighter Academy.  One tower uses gas props to mimic structural fires, and the other tower provides a rappelling wall for training how to rescue victims from cliffs.

The interim director of fire technology and emergency medical services at the college, Don Lacy, told a reporter for the online news magazine anewscafe.com., “This is a huge step forward in the north states for fire training.”

Students working in the woods this summer most likely will get to put their training into practice on regional wild fires.

Source: Schneider, Keith. "California Knew the Carr Wildfire Could Happen. It Failed to Prevent it." ProPublica, ProPublica Journalism in the Public Interest, 18 Dec. 2018, www.propublica.org/article/california-carr-wildfire-failed-to-prevent-it. Accessed 22 Feb. 2019; Lewis, Jon. "Twin Towers Raise Shasta College’s Firefighter Academy to New Heights." anewscafe.com, A News Cafe.com, LLC., anewscafe.com/2019/02/11/redding/twin-towers-raise-shasta-colleges-firefighter-academy-to-new-heights/. Accessed 22 Feb. 2019.

Kernan Turner is the Southern Oregon Historical Society’s volunteer editor and coordinator of the As It Was series broadcast daily by Jefferson Public Radio. A University of Oregon journalism graduate, Turner was a reporter for the Coos Bay World and managing editor of the Democrat-Herald in Albany before joining the Associated Press in Portland in 1967. Turner spent 35 years with the AP before retiring in Ashland.