Fresno Fire hosts first-of-its kind training for firefighters across CA

This training could help the department be better equipped to accurately determine the cause of a fire in the future.

Video Transcript

JASON OLIVEIRA: Whenever a fire rips through a building causing damage and claiming lives, it's the job of fire officials to determine what happened. Well a first of its kind academy is taking place in Fresno to help firefighters from across the state become arson investigators. Firefighters from across California are in Fresno learning what it takes to become a fire investigator.

SHANE BROWN: They put all this training that's required to become certified altogether. So you wouldn't have to travel all over the state or potentially the nation to chase down one certification here or there. It's all here.

JASON OLIVEIRA: With fires on the rise, officials say the demand for fire investigators has jumped exponentially. Fresno, for instance, has seen a staggering 1,800 fires since January 1 but operates with just a handful of investigators. This training could help the department be better equipped to accurately determine the cause of a fire in the future.

SHANE BROWN: Fresno is a fairly decent sized fire department with 20 fire stations. We only have six fire investigators. And of those six, we have three of them that are on duty during the week in a staff position working 40 hours, and we only have one that's responding on a 24-hour unit.

JASON OLIVEIRA: The four-week academy covers everything from basic introduction to fire to how to fill out origin-and-cause reports. But what happens in the field is only part of the training. Firefighters also go through a mock trial, where they must present and defend their findings under cross-examination from real courtroom attorneys. The idea is to provide more experience and better prepare them for what they might find while on duty.

SHANE BROWN: The benefit, it can't be expressed enough, that the individuals participating are going to go back to their public agencies and bring back invaluable training.

JASON OLIVEIRA: Now the four-week academy wraps up next week with the final segment of the course dedicated to investigating wildland fires.