Even more combat ready: 700 firefighters from five regions recently trained by CMPC

The initiative was brought to a close this week in Mulchén, Biobío Region, Chile. It was carried out during the months prior to the summer season, covering practical and theoretical concepts in forest fire prevention and control.

With the participation of volunteers from the Mulchén district of the Biobío Region of Chile, Thursday saw the culmination of a series of theoretical-practical training sessions that CMPC fire supervisors offered to 700 volunteers from south-central Chile to prevent and control rural and forest fires.

In total, we worked with 41 fire companies in the districts of Empedrado, Río Claro and San Javier in Maule; Pemuco and Yungay in Ñuble; Yumbel, Quilleco, Quilaco, Tucapel, San Pedro de la Paz, Cañete, Contulmo, Nacimiento, Negrete and Mulchén in Biobío; Renaico, Angol, Collipulli, Los Sauces, Lumaco, Ercilla, Victoria, Cunco, Vilcún, Nueva Imperial, Cholchol, Teodoro Schmidt and Toltén in La Araucanía; and Puerto Octay in Los Lagos. Each of these companies also received a specialized forest fire fighting toolkit.

Volunteers from the Second and Third Companies of the Mulchén Fire Department participated in the closing activity, whose members complied 100% with the program that made them forestry-related specialists.

“I am very grateful for this opportunity, since the summer season is approaching, so for us it is really important to have this kind of knowledge company-wide. Hopefully we will continue to have these trainings and other opportunities such as this, because it helps us work as a team with a unified command, working hand in hand while armed with the same knowledge and methods of handling forest fires,” said First Lieutenant Ailyn Salazar, of the Mulchén Fire Department’s first company.

“In today’s training they showed us fire-fighting techniques, tools handling, and the ways that forest fires spread. Our knowledge base keeps growing with this new information as well as what we’ve learned at our own Fire Department,” said Patricio Arellano, volunteer with the first fire-fighting company of Mulchén.

“This forestry workshop with our volunteers is coming to an end, completing a work plan between CMPC and the Fire Department. It’s a process we’ve been working on for quite some time in terms of prevention in different areas of the district. All that’s left is to thank CMPC for the effort it has made with our volunteers and the idea is to continue working for the well-being of the entire community of Muchén,” said Alejandro Neira, superintendent of the Mulchén Fire Department. 

The topics covered were quite varied and included, for example, fire types (surface, underground and canopy), along with the use and sequence of tools and stages of firefighting (reconnaissance, initial attack, control, liquidation, ash guarding). This was all taught through the eyes and experience of an instructor with 42 years under his belt.

“Building new teams is a fundamental aspect of this work. If we can add firefighting volunteers from all over Chile to help us, that would be excellent, since we need everyone to be equipped to carry out this task in an emergency,” said Juan Pardo, fire brigade supervisor and instructor.

CMPC Forest Fire Prevention Deputy Manager Cristóbal Palazuelos said, “Strategically, Chile’s Firefighters are fundamental partners in the fight against forest fires in the summer due to the multiple hotspots and multiple incidents we usually face.  They are often fighting these fires alone and need to have more tools and knowledge about forestry, and that’s what we’ve given them in these trainings.”

The event culminated with field work at the Morandé de Mulchén farm where the volunteers together with a CMPC ground fire brigade put into practice some of the concepts and methods of firefighting that they learned about during this 4-hour workday.