Fremont firefighters train following colleague death

June 3, 2011 11:50:48 AM PDT
The city of Fremont might be 40 miles from San Francisco, but what happened in Diamond Heights on Thursday is definitely on the minds of many of the firefighters in training.

At the state-of-the-art training facility in Fremont, a fire is lit by the Fremont Fire Department in a training building. The first crew on the scene attacks the fire; the second crew estabslies a water supply while the third crew ventilates the building from the roof in an attempt to mitigate a buildup of gases inside that can lead to what killed a San Francisco firefighter on Thursday.

The fourth crew to arrive stands by to give medical attention to any firefighters that may be injured while fighting the blaze.

The onlookers of this training exercise are city and state officials with whom the fire department would like to build a stronger relationship through education.

Fremont Fire Department's Deputy Chief Geoff LaTendresse understands the importance of today's training and shared his experience of being caught in a flashover a few years ago.

"Within about two or three seconcds, (I) felt the heat increase significantly and saw literally a flash of orange around my mask," LaTendresse said. "The next thing I knew, I woke up outside."

LaTendresse said the flashover knocked him "across the room, to the door, and there were other crews entering (the building) at the time."

On that day, the crews that were entering the structure grabbed him and brought him outside to safety. LaTendresse said if he had been knocked in a different direction, none of his crew would have been able to see him, possibly leading to a similar situation of what happened in San Francisco Thursday afternoon.

Flags were flown at half staff on Friday at the training center in Fremont in honor of San Francisco firefighter Lt. Vincent Perez, 48, who died while battling a two-story house fire in the Diamond Heights neighborhood. Two other firefighters were injured in the same blaze, with one sustaining criticial injuries.


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