When forecasters predict strong gusty Santa Ana winds firefighters know they've got to be in top form. So does their equipment. Imagine, firefighters heading to a big fire and a mile or two before they get their the fire truck breaks down. An equipment failure in a case like that can be the difference between life and death.
As winds starting blanketing Southern California problems followed. Just after 5am Thursday there was a fire in Santa Barbara County in the area of Montecito Peak . Firefighters threw everything at it hoping to get the upper hand before the winds did. By midday it stabilized at 70 acres. Ventura County Fire Captain Wayne Ferber says “We sent 5 wild land engines up there this morning." This was at the same time they were preparing for any wind-related problems in Eastern Ventura County.
And, their preparation wasn't just about staffing firefighters. It was also about making sure equipment is in tip-top shape.
Ferber says,“All our fire engines have to be in condition to respond to emergencies at any time any hour of the day.”
Meanwhile, LA County Battalion Chief Joel Harrison says the same thing goes for his department. He's chief over air operations and adds that the Firehawks are ready as are the Super Scoopers the county leases. County Fire’s air force, like that Ventura County fire truck, has to be 100% operational!
Inside the chopper that can handle 14 passengers we talked. I asked him about the critical nature of the County's air equipment. He said, "Our air force allows us to do things that most agencies would not dream of being able to do and we can go in, we can hit it hard, we can put the fire out and that makes all those resources available for the next fire that might come up.”
LA City Fire is also prepared and has two unique pieces of equipment. Fire tenders that can hold 2500 gallons each. Firefighter Greg Kindred says that's "five times the capacity of one of our fire engines.” He says that's they are like mobile fire hydrants.
The bottom line is with wind, extra firefighters deployed and mechanics doing proactive work on trucks and choppers, LA City Fire Captain Daniel Curry says, “It’s October. This is fire weather and this is October in Southern California and this is what we do. This is our bread and butter.”
It's all about being prepared!