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Students from last year’s Big D fire safety training class with instructor Dave Trussell. Trussell is holding the Fire Line Safety Awareness for Hired Vendors on Friday, April 7. The program provides certification required for contractors/operators who wish to work directly on the fire line during the upcoming fire season. Photo submitted

Required course for fire contractors offered in Chester

Instructor Dave Trussell is offering his annual Big D fire safety training class Friday, April 7. Sign-in starts at 7:30 a.m., with training beginning at 8 a.m. The class continues until  4 p.m., with a 40-minute break.

The program, called Fire Line Safety Awareness for Hired Vendors, is for contractors who wish to work directly on the fire line during the upcoming fire season.

The fire-training program will be held inside the Chester Fire Department’s conference room, located at the Chester Fire Department, 251 Chester Airport Road.

Attendees, at least 18 years of age, must participate in the entire class to earn their 2017 U.S. Forest Service/CalFire Line Safety Awareness for Hired Vendors contractor’s card that allows them to operate in fire zones.

“When a contractor shows up for either a CalFire or USFS fire, they’ll be asked to present their card showing they’ve had their annual refresher course and are certified,” said Trussell, although the class is open to first time enrollees as well.

Trussell served as a firefighter for 33 years with the Forest Service, he said, and has been teaching the class for the past 28 years.

The class consists of a lecture using a Power Point presentation that includes all the necessary safety aspects of fighting a fire that contractors/operators must know when using heavy equipment such as bulldozers, water tenders, graders, excavators, timber fallers and pickup truck drivers who own their own pickups.

“We teach contractors how to stay safe and out of harm’s way when operating their equipment,” he explained. “We don’t want a fire to overtake someone when they’re doing their job working on the fire line. That’s our main priority.”

The curriculum is approved by the Forest Service based on the standards set forth by the California State Fire Training Department, designed to deliver courses that provide fire service personnel at all levels with the knowledge and skills to do their jobs professionally and safely.

The course also includes the use of radios, working in teams and attending briefings, facing hazardous situations, and the correct use and quick deployment of a fire shelter, which an attendee must be able to deploy within 30 seconds, an essential part of the instruction and a requirement to complete the class.

As part of the curriculum, participants will learn to avoid hazards whenever they arise, he said. “These include discussing the 10 standard fire orders when fighting fires, and the 18 situations to watch out for.”

Trussell noted that before contractors show up at a fire location, they must first register with the Forest Service and/or CalFire by pre-signing with the agencies, describing the type of equipment they have and other information, which places them on an active list.

“Contractors then go through a rotation,” he said, and when their name comes up, they’re called to work alongside fire crews.

Contractors are paid for their time and the use of their vehicles, Trussell noted.

“They’re normally paid quite well. … On the federal side they have the option of providing bids as part of an agreement noting what they expect to be paid. CalFire has a standard rate, which varies depending on the type of equipment the operator has.”

The cost of transporting equipment and boarding is covered as part of the contract that operators sign, even over long distances that may take them to locations as far away as Central California, Washington, Colorado or potentially anywhere in the continental U.S., Trussell said.

Space for the Big D fire safety training class is limited. The cost of the training is $50 cash or check, and made out to Big D Fire Training.

Those interested in attending the class should register early by calling Dave Trussell at 257-3906 or by email at [email protected]. Payment can also be made at the door.

Big D fire safety training classes are also being held in Susanville at the Veterans Memorial Hall on March 23 and 30, in Alturas at The Brass Rail on March 24 and in Adin at the Town Hall on March 31.


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