Cal Fire

Cal Fire Preps for Expected ‘Brutal' Fire Season

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Cal Fire firefighters in the Bay Area are busy training for what's expected to be a brutal fire season .

The elite Helitack unit practiced water drops and other maneuvers preparing its 18-member team for an intense fire season.

“The weather is already starting to get hotter and drier, so it’s coming quickly,” said Cal Fire Helitack Captain Dave Manson.

This year’s coronavirus is part of the lessons, like wearing new protective gear and following new safety procedures.

“The helicopter program itself is very detailed, that in itself when put in the coronavirus scare, the precautions we’re taking, just adds a little bit to the fire,” said new Helitach member Daniel Nelson.

The Helitack unit acknowledges it has a difficult time adjusting since so much of their work involves teamwork and close contact with each other and victims.

“We do have masks available if we are doing a rescue for a patient if they don’t have a mask on just to increase the precaution,” said Captain Sean Ketchum. The scenarios are still being worked out.

“On larger incidents when we often will have a briefing, everyone gets together to hear something all together,” said Manson. “We might not be able to do that. So I’m not quite sure how that will be done.”

There is still a lot to figure out especially with the target date of full staffing coming up next week and depending on fire conditions, the captains aren’t ruling out trying to do it even earlier.

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