If you saw or smelled smoke in the town of Mammoth last Thursday night, don’t worry, it was just the Mammoth Lakes Fire Department doing some hands on training.
With the old Swiss Chalet set for demolition in order to make way for the Mammoth View project, the MLFD took advantage of the situation and, with the blessing of the property owners, created fires within the building in order to allow the department to train for real-life scenarios.
“It’s a rare opportunity to hone our skills for a real incident,” explained MLFD Fire Marshal Thom Heller. “Incidents of actual fire activity drop every year so it is nice to conduct fire training in unfamiliar territory.”
The department has a training tower at Fire Station 2, but structures such as the Swiss Chalet provide new and varied atmospheres. Training such as the one at the Swiss Chalet last week, simulates a real fire situation where MLFD members must deal with situation awareness and crew dynamics.
“The goal is to do enough training so that when a real situation is presented those on the department automatically know what to do,” Heller said.
The Swiss Chalet was an example of all the circumstances being right for a training of that nature, Heller added. Sometimes the department is offered buildings but has to turn them down. The setting, exposure, time of year, and ability to control the fire for the training all factor into these types of trainings.