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San Jose Firefighter Recruits Train for Potentially Brutal Wildfire Season

SAN JOSE (KPIX) -- The San José Fire Department held live-fire training exercises at Santa Teresa County Park on Thursday for Academy Recruit Class 21-01.

The regularly-scheduled training exposes recruits -- some for the first time -- to the rigors, tactics and specialized equipment in fighting wildfires.

"Some of them have some experience but most of them don't have any experience doing this so this would be their first time where they're actually going to see live fire in this kind of setting," said Capt. Brad Cloutier, with the SJFD.

The 24-member recruit class were put through the paces of a "mobile attack," where three firefighters on foot manipulate a hose attached to a brush truck and walk the fire line.

Live Fire Training in San Jose

The recruits must demonstrate proper water application and extinguishment and manage the water supply, all while negotiating the uneven terrain with a hose that sprays at 100 psi, capable of dispensing 35 gallons per minute.

Joshua Padron, a spokesperson for the department said the first day can be a challenge for the recruits.

"We're able to show them techniques and, for them to absorb all of that information, it does take a lot," Padron said.

Recruit Robert Bates, a San Jose native, experienced the controlled burns up close for the first time Thursday.

"It can be a very dangerous situation to be in but, with the proper training in place from the captains that we have here, I feel confident that I'll be prepared to be out there on the fire line," Bates said. "I'm born and raised in San Jose, it's my hometown. This is the place that built me up to who I am today and being able to take care of this community is something that I've dreamed of doing. And being a San Jose firefighter is a blessing."

Day 2 of training continues on Friday, with instruction regarding progressive hose-lay and line construction.

The recruits are on track to graduate in September and join the ranks of firefighters as California heads into its third-driest summer on record.

Park visitors are advised of the following park closures on Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.: Mine Trail south of Bernal Road, Pueblo Trail and the connector trail between Pueblo and Mine Trail. The Pueblo day-use area and the road to the equestrian lot will also be closed.

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