Elected officials spend the day as a San Juan County Fire and Rescue firefighter

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BLOOMFIELD, N.M. – First responders put their lives on the line every day to keep our communities safe, but rarely do we get the opportunity to walk a mile in their shoes.

However, that changed Friday when elected officials in San Juan County traded in their offices to spend the day as a firefighter.  

“We are doing what we are calling fire operations academy, and really the purpose of today is to expose, and educate our political leaders on some of the things our firefighters do on a daily basis,” David Vega, deputy chief of fire operations, for San Juan County Fire and Rescue.

So, the elected officials had to suit up, and tackle putting out the same kind of fires firefighters respond to.

“We have a lot of oil and gas industry in San Juan County, and so we get a lot of flammable liquid fires just based on that type of industry, and it really demonstrates that you can put out a flammable liquid fire with a small fire extinguisher,” Vega said.

From small and big fires, to using the Jaws of Life, and rescue operations — Friday was all about boots on the ground, and those boots are heavy.

“They will be in gear, the same gear that we wear, so they will be able to feel the restrictions, feel some of the challenges that we face in that gear,” Vega said.

Vega added that, it’s takes firsthand experience to know what it’s like to walk a mile in their shoes.

“When you’re in a formal setting you can describe to people what we do, you can describe some of the challenges, but today they’re going to be able to understand things from the firefighters point of view,” said Vega.