Local firefighters sending thoughts, prayers to injured Fresno fire captain
EUREKA- Firefighters across the state are offering thoughts and prayers to a Fresno fire captain severely burned after falling into a burning garage.
The incident captured in a bystander's cell phone footage depicts Fresno Fire Captain Pete Dern attempting to ventilate a roof. The roof then collapses, sending Dern into the building. His crew begins a desperate attempt to save him, knocking down the garage door and pulling him out in 3 minutes. He's now in the hospital in stable, but critical condition.
His suffering is not lost on firefighters here at home.
Humboldt Bay fire officials say they are using the video to learn and prepare local firefighters for a situation that can change in an instant.
"We know a few of the Fresno firefighters, we train with them at an annual conference some of us go to every year and they're in California so it's pretty close to home," Humboldt Bay Fire Battalion Chief Sean Robertson said. "It's just devastating to see and imagine being in that position."
It's a risk our firefighters take daily.
"We train on falling through the roof, we train on firefighters getting trapped under the debris," Robertson said. "You can assess a situation and you can have expectations on it and it may not be what it seems. Things can suddenly change and you know, things just sneak up on you sometimes and you can not do anything to prevent them."
Fire Chief Ken Woods says the ability for a situation to change in an instant comes with the job.
"It really brings again to the forefront, the dangerousness and the hazards that our firefighters undertake every day for structure fires and you know, it's an opportunity for us to review our tactic strategies to make sure that we're doing everything possible to be as safe as we can while at the same time protecting the public," Chief Woods said.
The department is reviewing those tactics and starting the conversation with it's firefighters on how to prepare for the unthinkable.
"Generally talk about how we deal with fires in a garage and a single family residence like that and how we would conduct operations and just a general discussion on how to do that and the lessons learned from what we are seeing on the video," Robertson said.
Humboldt Bay Fire officials say they are sending their thoughts and prayers to the Fresno firefighters and the captain's family. And wish him a speedy recovery in this very difficult time.