BFD uses the training to get familiar with speed of river and brush up on rescue skills

Posted at 5:15 PM, Jun 06, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-06 20:15:42-04

The Bakersfield Fire Department often is the first to respond to river rescues from Allen Road to the mouth of the canyon, so it is safe to say they have been busy the last two weeks.

Nearly two dozen rescues have been called for over the past two weekends, with many rescues ending at Hart Park.

Today, members of BFD gathered at Hart Park to work on their swift water rescue skills while also focusing on remaining safe on the river as well.

"There really is no politically correct way to say it," Chief John Frando said.

"We're putting our lives at risk if we are getting in the water this year, and eventually we are putting our firefighters at risk as well to go in and rescue you should that happen."

The power of the Kern River has affected the type of techniques the department can practice.

"This year, if we practice those techniques, like flipping a boat over and rescuing our own personnel, we almost can't do it here because we are putting our own lives at risk for this training exercise so we try to make it as realistic as possible," said Frando.

Frando added that crews have been practicing swift water rescue training for a few weeks in preparation of Memorial Day weekend, and will continue to practice throughout the month.