The San Bernardino County Fire Department hosted a dozer academy this week complete with real firefighting scenarios. Dozer operators from across the state came out to the academy which was held on a controlled burn site near Lake Silverwood.
New and seasoned operators were able to brush up on their skills, operating a dozer, cutting fire breaks and containing a wildland fire. Actual fires were set in a controlled environment under several planned scenarios. Fire behavior is erratic and unpredictable by nature and the dozer operators were tasked with making quick and critical decisions. They also had to deal with wind and thick brush growth.
Ted Mohr, a San Bernardino County Fire Dozer operator and trainer says it was important to host the academy right before the start of the fire season. Mohr says it gives new operators and season veterans a chance to fine tune skills and get training they need to go out on the front lines.
Dozers are a huge asset to firefighting. The large powerful machines are typically used to clear away areas of fuel near a fire so there is nothing left to burn. Dozer lines are critical in helping to contain and stop fires.
San Bernardino County Fire Department owns two dozers and there is always one operator ready to go during red flag fire conditions. A third and fourth dozer is available from both the US Forest Service and CalFire in the Inland Empire region.