Councilmembers Lena Gonalez (left) and Roberto Uranga learn techniques from LBPD. Photos by Brittany Woolsey. Full gallery below.

For Dee Andrews, running into a burning building on Saturday wasn’t anything new. After all, the 6th District representative said he once saved a woman from a house fire.

“I ran into the burning building and let me tell you, it was pretty scary but I couldn’t just walk by with a lady screaming for help,” he said.

4Andrews and other Long Beach City councilmembers tackled blazes and learned the ins and outs of a firefighter’s job at the annual Fire Ops 101 on Saturday, presented by the Long Beach Fire Department (LBFD).

Suited up in full firefighter’s gear, the councilmembers learned about breathing apparatus, fire behavior, experience the heat associated with a live fire, put out live fires and use extrication techniques.

Fire Ops 101 started about nine years ago by the California Professional Firefighters Association, said LBFD spokesman Brian Fisk.

“It allows the city council to really learn what we do and learn about the equipment and physical equipment that’s required of our job,” he said. “So when we say we need a new truck, they know what that truck does or any other kinds of resources.”

As Councilmember Al Austin clenched the door of a beat up car with the jaws of life—which weighs 50lbs—he was panting and out of breath.


“They go through thousands of hours of training to do this, and this exercise is really beneficial to the city council,” he said in between breaths and while wiping sweat off his face. “You don’t really understand someone’s work until you walk a day in their shoes. This is really worthwhile.”

Perhaps one of the greatest challenges of the day was experiencing a flash fire in which the councilmembers crawled into a burning shipping container and learned the proper techniques of putting out the fire without endangering others.

14“Firefighters die in flash fires,” Fisk said, adding that the hoses must release the water in a flash fire in a rapid, solid stream instead of from multiple directions out of the nozzle. This important difference means life or death for the firefighters.

As she exited the burning canister, Councilmember Stacy Mungo showed an appreciation for the fire department.

“It was hot in there,” she said. “It’s important for professionals that work for us know the dynamics of a fire and how the components of water and oxygen impacts it. Fire is more than just a job. It’s learning chemistry and techniques that will save lives.”