The spectacle may have alarmed bystanders, but several dozen firefighters who recently stormed up a high-rise building in downtown Anaheim were conducting a drill.
Anaheim Fire & Rescue opened up high-rise training to agencies throughout the county during 15 separate drills in October and November, using the building that houses its headquarters — the 12-story Anaheim West Tower at 201 S. Anaheim Blvd. — as its “classroom.”
The training included three hours of presentations and break-out sessions before firefighters geared up with equipment weighing as much as 70 pounds and ran up several flights of stairs during a 75-minute simulated high-rise fire drill.
State code defines a high-rise building as over 75 feet or six stories in height; in Orange County, agencies define them as 55 feet or greater in height or five or more floors above grade.
Pat Russell, Deputy Chief, Operations Division, Anaheim Fire & Rescue, said high-rise buildings present several unique challenges not found in traditional low-rise buildings.
The risk of falling glass and other debris and the challenge of getting people evacuated while trying to get to the fire are just two, Russell said.
High-rise fires require lots of resources — three times more than the personnel needed to fight residential or small commercial fires, according to training materials. Other challenges unique to high-rise fires include deploying rapid search and rescue teams to all affected floors, gaining control of the building’s PA system and managing uncontrolled self-evacuation of building occupants.
Behind the Badge OC photographer Steven Georges captured the action during a Nov. 10 drill. In the photo at the top of this story, Anaheim Firefighter Mark Hernandez ascends 12 stories during the multi-agency high-rise fire drill at Anaheim Fire & Rescue headquarters.