Sunday, January 29, 2023

Redwood Valley Structure Burns So Local Firefighters Can Train to Save Others in the Future

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[All of these photographs of Saturday’s Structure Fire Training were provided by Brandon Tripp]

This last Saturday, December 11, 2021, Redwood Valley Calpella Fire Department and CAL FIRE firefighters got an opportunity to hone the skills required to navigate the cinder and smoke of a structure fire on a real-life home donated for the cause. 

Redwood Valley Calpella Fire Chief Kerry Robinson told us the training provided his volunteer fire department with the opportunity to experience the dynamics of a burning building. The fire department has several new volunteers, Chief Kerry said, and the training provided them with the hands-on experience needed to respond to real-life structure fires.

The home that was burned for the training was donated by Ron’s Quality Construction. The construction company’s intention was to clear the lot and build anew and the fire department’s training served as a sort of useful demolition, Chief Robinson explained.

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Prior to going ahead with the burn, many steps were taken to mitigate the impact of the training burn including an environmental impact report, a HAZMAT report, air quality assessment, an asbestos report, amongst others. As a precaution, straw wattles were placed around the structure to minimize water run-off. 

Multiple types of training were conducted last Saturday, Chief Robinson said, including rescue operations, practicing forced entries, navigating a structure filled with smoke, and how to find a person in the midst of a structure fire. 

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Before the fire was actually lit, Chief Robinson described using a smoke machine to generate a smoky interior that firefighters used to practice the process of locating a person with a burning building.

CAL FIRE joined Redwood Valley Calpella Fire Department in the training and Chief Robinson explained the agencies’ partnership around the county is an outgrowth of the rural nature of their jurisdictions and the shared mission of the agencies “to save lives.” 

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As the flames died down and the home began to collapse in on itself, Chief Robinson said the firefighters ate a hearty lunch. Looking back, he called it “a productive day.”

If you are interested in volunteering to become a firefighter for the Redwood Valley Calpella Fire District, fill out this application and bring it down to their station at 8481 East Road, Redwood Valley, CA 95470.

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MendoFever would also like to thank Brandon Tripp Photography for his photographs from the training. Tripp’s photography is striking and he has many working relationships with first responders around the county providing him unique opportunities to document emergency situations. Check out his work on his website and Facebook page.


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Matt LaFever
Matt LaFever
I like to think of myself as a journalist for the everyman. Journalism has become a craft practiced largely by the urban elite. It’s time to take it back. I have been an Emerald Triangle resident since 2006 and this is year ten in Mendocino County. Please, email me at if you know a story that needs to be told.

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