Story by Perry Smith | Photos by Austin Dave Sawing and venting to save lives were among the skills practiced by L.A. County firefighters as they trained on soon-to-be-abandoned structures in Canyon Country recently. Los Angeles County Fire Department officials, led by Capt. Cervantes of Fire Station No. 107, took advantage of Santa Clarita’s purchase of the properties at Soledad Canyon and Sierra Highway for three days’ of drills last week. The city purchased the properties, which are set to be razed March 20 to make way for Santa Clarita’s much-anticipated permanent Canyon Country Community Center. In the meantime, the city gave permission to county fire officials so they could practice “hose lay evolutions, ventilation and forceful entry,” according to fire officials. “We do that throughout the county and it’s really for a couple of purposes,” said Inspector Gustavo Medina. “Obviously, it’s for training — it’s for our newer firefighters, as well, so they can understand the different types of construction and they know what to do.” The firefighters drill several times a month on different skills they use; however, fire officials noted the opportunity to practice inside an actual building, instead of on a training facility, was “invaluable.” The drills also let firefighters to learn about how construction layout can affect their access in an emergency situation, Medina said, “and also to get the feel of cutting into a roof.” Venting the roof with a chainsaw allows superheated gases to escape, so the ventilation crew works with the “interior fire attack crew” to extinguish a structure fire. The buildings that were being used as part of the fire officials’ training drills are being demolished by the city on Tuesday, March 20, at 10:30 a.m.