Fire academy revs its engines

GLENDALE — Verdugo Fire Academy cadets received a set of fire engines Monday to use during training to become professional firefighters.

The Glendale Fire Department formally donated two 1987 Pierce fire engines to the Glendale Community College fire academy Monday before the start of the school board meeting.

The cadets have already started training on the trucks during this year’s academy, cadet Bryan Torres said. They are pulling hoses, learning how to use levers and measure pressure.

The cadets used to use pieces of wood to replicate a fire engine in order to learn how to pull a fire hose.

“We were really improvising, and now we have the real thing,” Academy Chief Coordinator Sam Di Giovanna said.

In the past, cadets also borrowed the Fire Department’s reserve engines to train on at the fire academy. But the engines weren’t always available, especially during large brush fires.

“If the front-line engines were out on the brush fires, [the reserve] engines wouldn’t be available to us, so it sets us back on our training and our scheduling,” Di Giovanna said.

The Fire Department decided to donate the engines after noticing it had a surplus. The department recently got three new fire engines and put three older engines out of service.

One of the engines had been damaged and was going to be auctioned off, according to a city report.

The other two engines were no longer safe for responding to emergency calls, but could be used for training potential firefighters, according to a city report.

The Fire Department generally donated excess engines to Glendale’s sister city, Rosarito Beach, Mexico, or auctioned the old trucks.

But this year, fire officials opted to transfer ownership to the college since they work with the academy.

Current and retired Glendale firefighters teach courses in the certified, regional academy.

Being able to train on the trucks will further prepare the cadets for their future in fire service, Glendale Fire Chief Harold Scoggins said.

“Our thought process here in Glendale is if the local fire academy through Glendale Community College has the best tools and equipment, more of the local kids are going to choose firefighting as a profession,” he said.

“When they have equipment like this that we now how well it works . . . we believe more of our local students here will become future Glendale firefighters, so we view this as an investment.”

The Pasadena Fire Department gave an ambulance to the college’s emergency medical technician program, which is a first for the college.

Direct access to college-owned fire trucks will give instructors a chance to train cadets on campus rather than going to the Fire Training Center in south Glendale and interfering with the Fire Department’s busy schedule, Di Giovanna said.

“This is a huge donation to the Glendale fire academy,” he said. “We’ve never had this opportunity before.”

Students enrolled in the academy take fire technology classes, California State Fire Training and Education System courses, get certified in fire technology and earn an associate’s degree.

The year-long academy is offered Thursdays and weekends as an extended program.

After students complete the academy, many of them become cadets with local fire departments.


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