FOX 11's Marla Tellez trains with OC firefighters

It’s a day dedicated to giving elected officials and reporters a chance to experience what the 1,200 brave men and women of the Orange County Fire Authority face every day.

"We respond to 200,000 calls annually," said Capt. Chris Hamm.

Capt. Hamm says 70% of those calls are medical emergencies. The remaining 30% range from cliff, water and animal rescues to active shooter incidents to vehicle crashes to, of course, structure fires.  

"This idea that we call ourselves a fire department is really a misnomer. We’re all-risk," said Capt. Hamm.

On Saturday, May 4, almost three dozen officials, including FOX 11's Marla Tellez, signed up for the Fire Ops 101 course at the OCFA's Irvine headquarters.

"Until you really put your feet into their boots and you see what they do - it gives you a whole new vision," said southern Orange County Assemblywoman Laurie Davies. 

The event included three stations offering various training exercises, including rappelling, vehicle extraction, hose management, victim rescue, and a confidence course.

"This is just a glimpse of what a recruit goes through in the Fire Authority’s 20-week extensive training program," said Tellez. 

All participants were outfitted in authentic firefighter turnout gear, including a personalized helmet. 

"I just want to get an understanding of what it’s like day in and day out," said Ray Schnell, Tustin City Councilman.

They answer the call 24/7, 365 days a year, without hesitation and with a commitment to serve and save lives. It's a call most can't relate to, but now this select group can. 

"With a newfound appreciation and perspective, we salute each and every one of you," Tellez said.