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San Bernardino County Fire Department hosts inter-agency dozer academy – VVNG.com 

 April 30, 2022

HESPERIA, California – This month, the San Bernardino County Fire Protection District (SBCoFD) hosted the Inter-Agency Dozer Academy. Students from California, Texas and Illinois gathered to hone their skills in driving one of the most unique machines in the arsenal of wildfire extinguishing, the bulldozer.

Twelve Dozer teams attended the academy, which included a classroom and practical training. Candidates fell into one of two classifications: Dozerista and Swamper. A swamper is an individual who works on foot in front of a bulldozer assessing the terrain, conditions, and potential hazards that may lie in the dead corners of the bulldozer.

The first week included the operation of large transport trucks bringing bulldozers to the site. This included the necessary pre-trip DMV inspections, CHP requirements for attaching heavy equipment to trailers, the laws and operation of Code 3, and safety considerations.

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(photo courtesy of San Bernardino County Fire)

Students also underwent classroom training to become trainees for heavy equipment chiefs, an assessment by the California State Fire Marshal and the National Fire Coordination Group that confirms competence in heavy equipment operations.

The second week included building operational skills. The training was held at SBCoFD’s fire camp located near Glen Helen Regional Park. Operators and Swampers practiced blade work, learning the limits of their equipment, working on slopes, building roads, and winch operations.

The final phase of the training included a unique opportunity for this academy: firearms training. This is the only dozer academy in the country that includes real fire in its dozer training.

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San Bernardino County Fire Department
(photo courtesy of San Bernardino County Fire)

From May 4 to 6, the SBCoFD carried out a prescribed burn north of Silverwood Lake to reduce annual fuel and provide initial responses to the attack. During this project, academy participants had the opportunity to practice “initial attack” strategies, including line construction, radio communication, resource requirements, interaction with hand-held crews and helicopters, as well as contingency operations such as building fire breaks to stopped the advancing flame approaching. Unmanned aerial vehicles have also been used in the evolution of safe shooting training and aerial lookout for personnel.

When it comes to building a fire line, nothing can compare to the power and capabilities of a bulldozer. As is common in the fire service, the benefits come with associated risks. It takes approximately 500 hours of training and experience to become a fully qualified dispenser operator.

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This academy is a great component of these hours and ensures that when forest fires threaten our region, dozens of firefighters are ready with their dozers to protect our communities and the environment.

San Bernardino County Fire Department
(photo courtesy of San Bernardino County Fire)

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(source: San Bernardino County Fire Department press release)

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San Bernardino County Fire Department hosts inter-agency dozer academy – VVNG.com

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