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Residents learn fire business

Brandon Gee
Barrett Fisher, of Steamboat Springs, reaches the top of a 75-foot ladder Saturday during the inaugural Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue Citizens Fire Academy. The free day-long class introduced nine locals to some of the skills, training and equipment needed to be a firefighter.
Courtesy Photo

— Whether they were interested in firefighting as a career, or just plain interested, more than a dozen local residents participated in Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue’s first Citizens Fire Academy on Saturday.

“There seems to be people interested in it as a career. There’s some people who are just interested in what (firefighters and paramedics) do,” Fire Rescue public education coordinator Deb Funston said. “It helps to open their eyes to all they do. : They’re just blown away by all the equipment.”

The all-day academy included walkthroughs of an ambulance and other fire equipment, a car extrication demonstration, an aerial climb up the department’s 105-foot engine ladder and instruction on how to use fire extinguishers and fire hoses. There also were lessons in fire safety in the home and at work, CPR and basic first aid.

“Everybody knows they fight fire, but we’re here to find out what else they do,” said Steamboat resident Greg Dalsis, who said he is not interested in firefighting as a career but was curious about the department. “I guess the biggest eye-opening thing is how many things they do. : These guys can all do a lot of stuff.”

The academy was the brainchild of firefighter and emergency medical technician Craig Malchow. Malchow said 16 people signed up. The department intends to establish the academy as an annual event.

Among other things, Malchow said participants were amazed at how heavy and hot firefighting gear is. The department simulated its annual physical agility test for academy participants, but Malchow said he also hoped to stress the mental aspects of the job.

“You’ve got to be physically fit,” Malchow said, “but also mentally to see bad stuff happen.”

Lynda Vantassle participated in the academy with her husband, Quentin. Both work at Yampa Valley Medical Center.

“It’s broadening my horizons, I guess,” Lynda Vantassle said.

Robert Anderson, of Yampa, was one of the participants who hopes to become a full-time firefighter. He hopes to join the volunteer department in Yampa this summer.

“It definitely is getting me a better look at it,” Anderson said about the academy, “and it’s making me excited to try it even more.”


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