Hundreds of firefighters gathered in Rancho Mirage for the California State Firefighters’ Association conference.
“We’re all part of the same family,” says Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna, of the Verduga Fire Training Center, who helped organize the event.
CSFA was started by group of firefighters who just wanted to discuss issues affecting them so they could better serve their communities, 96 years later, some of the issues may be different but the tradition is alive and well.
“Firefighters from throughout the state are here to train on mental health issues, firefighters and stress, our upcoming wild-land season that we’re going to have our Santa Ana winds,” says DiGiovanna.
This year some of the main topics include PTSD.
“It’s just great hearing from someone else who you know has gone through the situation and just you know knows knowing that there’s people you can reach out to,” says Joe Stewart, the Northern California CSFA Director, who works for the Geyserville Fire Department in Sonoma County.
“The one thing that I see a little bit more and more is the stress that’s imposed upon firefighters they’re seeing a lot of devastation communities are wiped out,” says DiGiovanna adding the devastating losses that didn’t spare their own, “within our own family firefighters already have lost their lives this season very early.”
That’s why being here together means a lot.
“Camaraderie with all our brothers and sisters in the fire service we all come together,” says Bill Hoffman, who is CSFA Historical Society President and CSFA Pipes and Drums Director.
The CSFA Pipes and Drums opened the ceremony with a tribute to the fallen.
DiGiovanna says the attendance was affected by the many firefighters still battling fires in Northern California and with the Santa Ana winds yet to strike, they expect a tough fight ahead.