Anaheim Fire & Rescue cadet learns about the importance of fire prevention

By Jessica Peralta

Firefighting always has been Anaheim Fire & Rescue cadet Cesar Salinas’ dream job.

Though he’s still very passionate about becoming a firefighter, six months as an AFR cadet has opened his eyes to the possibility of a related career in Fire Prevention/Community Risk Reduction.

“It just really showed me that one thing really balances the other,” said Salinas, 29. “That without the inspectors and fire marshals … a lot of our firefighters could possibly harm themselves in trying to do their jobs.”

One of four cadets assigned to the Community Risk Reduction Division in the AFR program, which launched three years ago, Salinas does a lot of work helping out on the fire prevention side of the agency’s services.

For example, Salinas said home safety visits are an area where cadets often offer assistance. Members of the Anaheim community can call the agency to make an appointment for an inspector to visit their home. Inspectors and cadets can help with setting up emergency plans, organizing medical and prescription information, and installing smoke alarms for free.

“We do a lot of things with the local residents,” he said.

Cadet Cesar Salinas of Anaheim Fire & Rescue. Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Cadets also help inspectors with annual life-safety business inspections for fire proofing and making sure proprietors are following fire laws. Anaheim Convention Center events like the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) and Supercross require a lot of fire inspection work that cadets assist on – usually by helping with paperwork.

“We’re here to basically help them out so they can focus on the bigger projects,” he said.

Out in the field during ridealongs, Salinas also has helped put out cones during emergency calls and has pulled out hoses for the firefighters.

“It basically painted a bigger picture for me [of] the fire department,” said Salinas of the cadet program.

It isn’t the first time Salinas has worked for a fire department. At age 20, he joined the Navy, where he remained for eight years, working on aviation boats for five years before heading to Spain, where he became a firefighter for three years. There he rotated working at fire stations, as well as at the airport.

When his assignment was over, he decided he wanted to apply to become a city firefighter back in the U.S. – which is how he ended up working in AFR’s cadet program.

“I really love going to the office,” said Salinas, adding that he goes in three days a week, commuting from Los Angeles. “You can just tell that everybody loves what they’re doing, and that makes a huge difference.”

As he learns the ropes of city fire service, Salinas also is applying to have his Navy firefighting academy training transferred over to California. If it is approved, he can then take an exam that he will need to pass to receive a California fire marshal certification required to become a firefighter here. At the same time, he’s also going to West L.A. College and majoring in fire science.

In the meantime, he’s keeping his fitness levels up with CrossFit training to remain ready for any opportunity that presents itself.

“If I get picked up [as a firefighter], I’ll always be ready,” he said.

And as he works as a cadet, the learning process continues. Salinas has learned that being a fire inspector is much more than simply making sure the fire sprinklers are working. Inspectors have to make sure all systems are functioning properly in fire panels, that emergency exits are illuminated and clear of obstacles, and check off many other prevention checklist items. Now that he’s expanding his knowledge about inspections, it’s something he’s considering pursuing in the future.

“It actually saves lives, no matter what,” he said.

If interested in becoming a fire cadet with Anaheim Fire & Rescue, contact Anaheim Human Resources for additional information.