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CAL FIRE host 37 French Firefighters

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  • CAL FIRE host 37 French Firefighters

    CAL FIRE hosts their French counterparts

    There were many “mercis” and “bonjours” heard at the Yountville Station Tuesday, where the CalFire crew hosted a group of firefighters from France on a whirlwind tour of CalFire’s operations in Northern California.

    The lunch was organized at the Solano Avenue fire station, close to the Veterans Home of California at Yountville where the group spent much of Tuesday listening to lectures on CalFire operations.

    “It’s great to have them,” said CalFire Capt. Tony Aston after he and his crew served pork barbecue and all the trimmings for the group: 32 graduate officers and five instructors from France’s national fire, rescue and civil protection academy, the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Officiers Sapeurs-Pompiers in Aix-en-Provence.

    “Welcome to the Napa Valley,” said Tim Streblow, chief of CalFire Sonoma-Lake-Napa unit, as he greeted the French guests at the Yountville fire station.

    The students, in their 20s through their 40s, are members of their academy’s 72nd graduating class. All lieutenants, they are scheduled to be deployed throughout France after 18 months of training. Most have either been firefighters or have gone to college before entering the school through a competitive — or concours — process.

    Their tour began Monday after landing in San Francisco and walking across the Golden Gate Bridge before spending the night in Solano County.

    CalFire and French fire officials in Yountville said they were eager to exchange ideas, firefighting techniques, noting that southern France’s Mediterranean climate is similar to Northern California’s. They hope more exchanges can take place in the future.

    “Hopefully, we can start a program,” Streblow said.

    CalFire Battalion Chief Michael Shorrock of Oroville has visited the French school. He served as liaison with a former French student from Bordeaux University who interned at his CalFire unit seven years ago and is now a member of the 72nd graduating class.

    CalFire Deputy Chief Fred Flores, the head of CalFire Incident Command Team 5, the group that coordinated the trip, said CalFire wanted to give the French a good experience. “We’ll share ideas with each other,” he said.

    After checking out the fire engines at Yountville’s fire station, the head of the group, Lt. Col. René Spiès, said he was impressed with his hosts’ warm welcome. So were the students, who sold toy helicopters and 2,500 smoke-alarm detectors to pay for the trip.

    “People are very nice,” said Frank Pascal, a firefighter in Paris who spoke in French. At 44, Pascal is the oldest member of the graduating class. He ate lunch with two classmates, Sebastien Meunier and Sebastien Brahic, both in their early 20s.

    Brahic, who is from the Landes in southwestern France, noted similarities between California and France. “We also have very big forests,” he said in French.

    Students marveled at how well organized their hosts were. Céline Gaboriaud, who is from Bordeaux originally, said she enjoyed being able to ask questions about the equipment and uniforms.

    “That’s cool,” she said in English afterwards.

    To organize the trip, CalFire organizers sought and received help from dozens of sponsors and businesses, including Fred Schweiger, a grapegrower on Spring Mountain Road. Schweiger, a longtime volunteer firefighter, hosted a dinner catered by Jacy Tatum’s of Sonoma’s Firehouse Barbecue Tuesday night at his winery near the Napa-Sonoma line. Business sponsors included Physio Control.

    The French firefighters then split up to spend Tuesday night at CalFire fire stations in Yountville, Napa, the Napa airport and

    St. Helena.

    On Wednesday, the French firefighters and their CalFire hosts observed a bulldozer operation at Lake Frye before heading to Solano County to visit the Delta Conservation Camp.

    Then they changed into their formal uniforms to meet Acting CalFire Director Ken Pimlott in Sacramento, said CalFire spokeswoman Suzie Blankenship. They were very “spiffy looking,” she said in a brief e-mail.

    Other stops include CalFire operations in Amador-El Dorado-Alpine unit and Butte County. The tour ends Tuesday.

    Copyright 2011 Napa Valley Register. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


    Its nice to see the international fire service come together and share knowledge and ideas. I wish we saw more of that even just in our own country.
    Up To Date Wildland Fire Information

  • #2
    Shreveport, LA Fire is currently hosting a group from Belguim.

    SFD will be sending some members to Belguim next year.
    Train to fight the fires you fight.


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