The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) has formally opened fire season in Santa Cruz/San Mateo Unit.
The season officially opened on June 4 and CAL FIRE has recently controlled several wildland fires in Santa Cruz and San Mateo counties. According to CAL FIRE, so far this year more wildland acres have burned in this unit than in the last two years combined.
“This is due in part to drier fuel conditions not seen since the summer of 2009. In response to the increased fire activity and fuel conditions, the unit will increase its staffing level to 12 wildland fire engines on June 29,” CAL FIRE said in a statement.
To meet the staffing needs for fire season, CAL FIRE augments its permanent workforce with seasonal firefighters. Most seasonal firefighters are returning CAL FIRE employees with previous firefighting experience. Seasonal firefighters receive training in wildland and structural fire fighting as well as required certification in hazardous materials and emergency medical response. Much of this training will occur at the annual firefighter returnee academy that will be held the week of June 25 at the Camp Ben Lomond Training Center.
Unit Chief John Ferreira says it is important to remind residents to prepare for the fire season by making their properties fire safe. This can be done by creating a 100-foot, defensible space zone around homes, he said.
Inspections to ensure compliance are taking place through the counties. For information about how residents can make their homes fire safe, go to CAL FIRE’s website at www.fire.ca.gov.