Mayors from more than 40 U.S. cities experienced the smoke, adrenaline rush and physical stress and strain that fire fighters and emergency medical personnel face every day in their communities as part of a FIRE OPS 101, held in conjunction with the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) annual meeting in Honolulu, Hawaii, in June.

In addition, more than 25 state and local elected officials from throughout Hawaii accepted the challenge to experience life as a fire fighter as part of a second FIRE OPS 101 event one day earlier.

Hosted by the Hawaii Fire Fighters Association Local 1463 and the Honolulu Fire Department, both events included a live fire scenario, vehicle extrication, search and rescue and a medical emergency.

President of the Hawaii Fire Fighters Association Local 1463 Robert Lee says, “There’s no better way to show state and local officials what our members do every day to protect our communities than FIRE OPS 101.”

“In the last four years, more than 140 mayors have participated in FIRE OPS 101, leaving with a new understanding of the job fire fighters do and the information they need to make important, informed decisions about fire fighter staffing and resources,” says General President Harold Schaitberger.

10th District Vice President Frank Lima welcomed the mayors, stressing that mayors and fire fighters need to work together to deliver quality public safety services in their communities. “When you go back to your respective cities, when you have to make the tough decisions, we want you to have your fire fighters’ backs when it comes to the community’s safety and their safety.”

Hawaii Lieutenant Governor Josh Green was among those who participated. He says he has a renewed appreciation for the dangerous job fire fighters do. “Every executive, every legislator, should do this FIRE OPS at least once so they know they are investing in the right people.”

In his remarks, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said, “Every mayor should know what it’s like to go into a burning building,” adding, “If you’re going to be an effective mayor, you need to be right there as a partner, side by side, to make sure your fire fighters get the support they need.” He added, “As a mayor, you have to be a partner with your fire fighters or you should resign or find another job.”