C. Oregon firefighters embrace culture of safety

Await word what went horribly wrong in Arizona

POSTED: 11:16 PM PDT July 1, 2013 
BEND, Ore. -

As more details emerge about the tragedy in Arizona, Central Oregon  firefighters say safety is the No. 1 thing they focus on.

Before a new firefighter even sets foot on the fire line. they first have to go through a week-long training course.

"For an entry-level firefighter, the first thing that happens is they attend Guard School," COFMS Fire Training and Safety Manager Tim Hoiness said Monday.

The course covers everything from digging hand lines to deploying a fire shelter.

"I think we've developed a culture where mistakes are used to be learned from," Hoiness said.

Part of the course builds the foundation for new firefighters to always know their safety routes and zones. But if that doesn't work, Hoiness says the emergency fire shelter comes as the last resort.

Firefighters are shown how to deploy the foil-lined shelter in every condition imaginable, from wind to a hillside covered in debris.

"Safety is the No. 1 thing we look at," Hoiness said. "There is nothing out there that's worth protecting that's worth risking someone's life over."