Congress Appropriates $269K to LTCC for Fire Academy Equipment

March 28, 2022

Fire Academy Graduating Class 2019Thanks to a Congressional appropriation championed by United States Senators Dianne Feinstein and Alex Padilla in the federal spending bill, Lake Tahoe Community College will receive $269,000 to purchase crucial equipment and training materials for its Lake Tahoe Basin Fire Academy.

“This funding will ensure that our Fire Academy cadets are best prepared for real-world situations and are well trained to use the latest firefighting apparatus, equipment, and tools no matter what fire service, agency or station they end up employed with after graduation,” said LTCC President Jeff DeFranco. “We’re truly grateful to our state’s two senators for understanding the critical nature of our funding request and for supporting it.”

This financial support couldn’t have arrived at a more important time. In 2020, California experienced its biggest fire year ever recorded, with more than 4.3 million acres burned. With more residential areas encroaching on wildlands statewide, California is also seeing more buildings and homes lost to wildfire.

In 2021, California’s wildfire season resulted in 10,000 structures destroyed and 31 lives lost. South Lake Tahoe is acutely aware of the very real risk of wildfire, having experienced the devastating Angora Fire in 2007 and the Caldor Fire in September 2021.

“Fire prevention and response is one of the highest priorities for our community and for LTCC,” said DeFranco. “We’ve responded to this clear need through investments in programs in Fire Science, Forestry, and Environmental Science. This new funding will help support all these critical programs and the educational needs of the firefighters who graduate out of them.”

Since launching in 2007, the Lake Tahoe Basin Fire Academy at LTCC has provided cadets with all-risk fire training including wildland fire, hazardous materials, ice rescue, ventilation training, and other experiential learning services. The Academy has graduated over 350 cadets, many of whom are employed with various municipal agencies in the Tahoe Basin, with seasonal wildland fire services, and with state and federal agencies including the USDA Forest Service and CAL FIRE.

“These graduates are vital to keeping the Tahoe community safe, and they will help California to address its anticipated workforce shortages over the next 10 years, particularly in the areas of fire prevention, mitigation, and firefighting,” said DeFranco. “They are the ones who will do the hard work to protect our state from the growing dangers of fire, and they deserve the highest quality trainings and most modern equipment we can provide them with.”

In 2020, LTCC invested in a two-story mobile training tower that allows cadets in the program to train in multiple and varied environments, and to perform specific rescue functions. This new Congressional funding will allow LTCC to add a mobile ventilation training unit to the mix, along with a mobile air compressor, extractors, and a new utility vehicle capable of towing the two training elements to various locations in Douglas, Alpine, and El Dorado counties.

“This urgently-needed funding will enable the Lake Tahoe Basin Fire Academy to upgrade necessary equipment and provide training opportunities for cadets to learn the skills necessary to perform safe rescues,” said LTCC’s Dean of Workforce Development and Instruction Brad Deeds.

The new mobile ventilation training unit will allow cadets to learn skills around proper sounding, cutting, and ventilation techniques that lessen the heat and smoke in structure fires. The new unit also teaches cadets how to breach various kinds of buildings when access is limited due to locked doors and windows, and helps cadets understand how to ensure safe rescues out of garages, kennels, farm buildings, and other rural structures, along with urban buildings and homes.

This equipment will help cadets prepare for wildfires in urban areas, and in areas where urban housing meets wildland vegetation. It will also help cadets to learn how to contain fire spread between homes and into vegetation areas, which is crucial to the Tahoe Basin and its mixed-use geography.

For more information about the Lake Tahoe Basin Fire Academy at LTCC, visit their website homepage. New students who wish to start the program in Fall 2022 will need to attend a mandatory summer orientation.