COSTA MESA — Suited up in yellow uniforms, helmets and boots, and with oxygen masks strapped to their backs, two high-school boys crawled through a wooden obstacle course blindfolded.
The exercise gave the students a taste of what it would be like as a firefighter having to escape from a caved-in structure fire.
"In a real fire, the smoke is too thick and they won't be able to see," said Mauricio Alvarez, 17, a senior at Monte Vista High School. "It's intense."
The exercise was one of many displays put on Thursday afternoon at the first community forum at the office of the Coastline Regional Occupational Program, or ROP, near Costa Mesa High School.
About 800 community members, legislators and school officials from five school districts around Orange County, including Newport-Mesa Unified and Huntington Beach Union, were invited to the event — a kind of open house — to see what students had accomplished, said Stacy Robinson, who teaches the retail sales and merchandising internship class.