Fire department focuses on training with new classroom | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Fire department focuses on training with new classroom

Tom Lotshaw
tlotshaw@tahoedailytribune.com

A portable classroom on Lyons Avenue is helping South Lake Tahoe Fire Department focus on training, one of its major initiatives this year, according to Chief Jeff Meston.

"It's been open for about a month. We're really excited about that because all of our training prior to that had been accomplished in one of the fire stations," Meston said.

Training in the fire stations meant pulling out the fire engines and setting up tables and chairs in the vehicle bay. It also involved a slew of parking and other facility challenges solved with the new classroom.

"We were hoping to (build) something behind fire station two, but this opportunity came up. We were able to rent it at a very low rate from the school district and now we have a dedicated site," Meston said.

Training will be a major focus this year and in years to come. After the layoffs of several years ago and the loss of senior employees including three division chiefs, a fire marshal and fire chief, nearly half of the South Lake Tahoe Fire Department's employees are on probation.

"That means either they are new to their positions or less than 18 months on the job. So the focus right now is back to training, back to basics, learning and refining skills. This just gives the fire department a good place to do it," Meston said.

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The department is renting the portable classroom for just $300 per month, plus $100 per month for an alarm service and another $100 per month for portable restrooms.

Firefighters have been busy in the classroom. Last week the classroom hosted a sprinkler class for the city's building department. This week it hosts a training on hazardous materials.

"This is really an ideal situation for us. I said this year is a year of training for us and now we have a classroom to match that," Meston said.